03/06/2007, Croft Circuit, UK
|Copyright © Nissan
Rounds 7 and 8 of the British Formula Renault Championship were held at Croft Circuit in the northeast of England. Round 7 saw Ryuji Yamamoto spin, make contact with another car, and retire. Due to the damage caused, he was unable to start Round 8.
Croft is a 3.390km track shaped in a boomerang. There's no elevation change on the track that features tight corners and 90°C turns. The weather was moderately fine with the daytime temperature rising up to between 20 - 25°C.
With only one 20 - minute qualifying session held on the 2nd, drivers' best lap times determined the starting order for the first race, while their second - quickest times set up the grid for Round 8.
Yamamoto's best time of 1:18.050 placed him 12th - fastest amongst the 18 qualifiers, 0.874 seconds off the top time. However, his second best lap time was a 1:18.074 - 8th-fastest - and 8th on the grid for the second race. His better grid position created higher expectations for a better result.
Round 7 was a 15 lap race, held on the evening of the 2nd. Yamamoto had a fairly good start and kept his position into the first corner. He moved up one place on the opening lap, and then improved one more on lap 3 until he joined a group of cars competing for 7th. Next he advanced to 9th, and was 8th by lap 5, fighting with the #34 car of Adriano Buzaid. Buzaid had been keeping a slow pace, and soon other cars caught up with them, forming a large group of nine cars. Yamamoto attempted to overtake him many times but was unsuccessful and by the time he got to 7th on lap 8, the car in front of him was miles up the road.
Yamamoto then decided to better his lap time but at the first corner of lap 10,
he ran off track due to carrying too much speed and dropped to 8th again.He sought further opportunities among the eight cars competing for 7th, but at the 90°C corner on lap 12, he spun on his own. To make matters worse, a car behind him could not get around him, hit him and stopped on track. The race was then red flagged and called off. After the race, his car was found to have a fracture in the monocoque, which couldn't be repaired on site. This meant that Yamamoto lost his opportunity to race the next day in Round 8 and he had to endure quite an unhappy weekend.
"I think I had a good race, at least for the first half. When I got up to 7th, I knew the gap between the car in front was too big. However, I wanted to make an impression by improving my time. Perhaps that caused undue haste, I ran off track at the first corner from carrying too much speed. It is my fault that I wasn't able to enter Round 8. I want to do better next time, and will be aiming much higher than this."
Nissan Drivers Developing Program (NISSAN D.D.P.)
In 2006, Nissan, Toyota and Honda launched Formula Challenge Japan (FCJ), a new formula car series started in order to raise young drivers who will be competitive around the world. Nissan, along with the two other manufacturers, have introduced a scholarship program to a couple of selected drivers. In 2006, Nissan supported four drivers.
Yamamoto was ranked 2nd in the Championship, losing only by the number of victories. This season, he has been given the opportunity to participate in the Formula Renault UK Championship with Nissan's unique 'Advanced Scholarship'. The series uses Italian-made Tatuus chassis-based formula cars with Renault inline 4 cylinder 2000cc production engines. It is one level below Formula 3 in the hierarchy, and categorized as a 'middle formula' like FCJ.
Nissan/NISMO continues to support four young drivers with scholarships and in their entry to FCJ.