Alexander Sims clinched his second win of the season to boost his title aspirations with a superb drive in the opening Formula Renault UK race of the weekend at Silverstone.
The Manor Competition ace led home series leader Adam Christodoulou and Dean Stoneman at Silverstone National circuit to close the gap on Christodoulou in the standings.
Lining up sixth on the grid, Sims made a barnstorming start to lie third exiting the first corner. Fortec Motorsport's Adriano Buzaid led away from pole position, with CR Scuderia Formula Renault's Christodoulou in second. At Brooklands, Christodoulou made a move for the lead that failed, giving Sims momentum to continue the chase on lap two.
A lap time of less than one minute at the 1.64-mile circuit meant the action was fast and furious, with Sims not having long to wait to challenge for second place. The two title protagonists had run wheel to wheel through Luffield bend on the opening tour and Sims made a decisive move at Brooklands on lap two to take the position.
Fortec's James Calado made a slow start from third on the grid and found himself in sixth at the end of the first lap, which became seventh as Stoneman passed him at Copse on lap two. As the cluster of cars ran towards Becketts, Calado came together with CR Scuderia's Jesse Krohn sending both cars spinning into retirement.
As the Safety Car came out to enable recovery, news came through of a Drive Through Penalty for race leader Buzaid for an out of position start. At the restart on lap eight, Stoneman swept past Fortec's Oli Webb around the outside at Brooklands to take fourth place. The following lap saw Eurotek's Jordan Oakes pass Alpine Motorsport's Rossi on the inside at the same corner.
Buzaid served his penalty on lap ten to drop to last place as Sims inherited the lead. Stoneman set the fastest lap to that point to close the gap on Adam Christodoulou, before Sims posted a better lap to extend his advantage. In fifth place, Fortec's Riki Christodoulou then took a turn to be quickest as he tried to join cousin Adam, Stoneman and Webb in the race for second.
Lap twelve saw Rossi re-pass Oakes for sixth to clinch his best finish of the season. Further down the order, CR Scuderia's Ryuji Yamamoto pass Mark Burdett Motorsport's Thomas Hylkema at Copse, the opportunistic Tom Armour taking the chance to follow the Japanese through into 15th before passing Yamamoto for 14th by the end of the lap.
Sims and Riki Christodoulou continued to trade fastest laps, with the two bonus points potentially crucial to Sims' title ambitions. Lap 19 saw Sims claim the two points with a mark of 54.980s and simultaneously take his lead to 2.5 seconds. Sixth-placed Rossi set his personal best lap time on lap 21 as he looked to join the train of cars behind Adam Christodoulou.
Stoneman continued to keep the pressure on Christodoulou in the race for second, the championship leader struggling with a bent wishbone after contact in the early stages. The problem didn't hinder Christodoulou as he kept Stoneman at bay, but the victory went to Sims to cut the deficit to 49 points after dropped scores are taken into consideration.
“I had one of my better starts and got past three cars by the first corner,” Sims said. “Once I was past Adam I got my head down but don't think I quite had the pace of Adriano. When he pitted I had a big smile on my face but still a job to do to get the fastest lap points. As far as the championship goes, I can only control what I do and hope Adam has an off day.”