Formula Renault UK 2007

Round9&10 Oulton Park 2007.06.22 fri. - 06.24 san

Despite a major mistake in qualifying,
the races were a learning experience

24/06/2007, Oulton Park Circuit, UK

Rounds 9 and 10 of the British Formula Renault Championship were held at Oulton Park Circuit in Cheshire on Saturday, 23rd and Sunday, 24th of June. Nissan - NISMO scholarship - supported Ryuji Yamamoto started 20th and finished 15th after overtaking 5 of his rivals in Saturday's race, while for round 10, held on Sunday, he started 20th and finished 12th.

Oulton Park, located in Cheshire, approximately 60km south east of Liverpool, was built in 1926. The circuit, called a "Park", is normally quiet and airy. Using several short cut routes, the track may be used in three different layouts: International, Island and Fosters. This weekend the 3.616km Island configuration was chosen, featuring four right - angled corners, a hairpin and the back straight with a chicane. This is a high - speed track with an average speed of 160km/h.

Copyright © Nissan 
This weekend there was only one qualifying session, held on the Saturday. The fastest time from each driver determined the grid for the first race, Round 9, while the second fastest times determined grid positions for Round 10. With 20 cars qualifying, Yamamoto too joined the field, scoring a 1:24.790 on his second timed lap. The misfortune was that on the next lap he spun off at the second corner. This forced him to abort the session as he was unable to get his car back on track before qualifying ended. The practice session, held the day before, was under wet conditions and qualifying was his first opportunity to drive the track in the dry. Perhaps it was that he couldn't deal with the change of conditions, but while the other drivers scored lap times between 1:19 and 1:22, his time was far from competitive and he sank to the bottom of the grid for both races.

The first race was held in the evening of the 23rd. Yamamoto made a clear start, overtaking one car on the first corner and then another on the back straight. With one car spinning, he managed to finish his first lap in 17th. Yamamoto was now right behind the #25 of Daniel Ivarsson, and was seeking the opportunity to overtake. On lap 5, the car in third place retired but the machine in front of Yamamoto maintained a slow pace and so the gap to the car in 14th was only increasing. It took him until lap 8 to get past Ivarsson, the gap to the 14th - placed car now almost 7 seconds. On lap 9, his teammate Riki Christodoulou (#4), spun while running 5th, recovering right in front of Ryuji. Yamamoto took this as a good opportunity to learn from his teammate, a previous race - winner, being able to see what he would do during the race. Yamamoto remained in this position to the finish but as he reviewed his logged data, his saw that his first sector was 17th fastest, third sector 14th quickest, and his second sector 3rd best. Perhaps his private lesson had helped him in some way.

Copyright © Nissan 
Round 10 was held on the following day, Sunday the 24th, from early in the evening. Yamamoto started from rock bottom but had already overtaken two cars by the time his car reached the 1st corner. And on the back straight, the car made further gains and he proudly took 16th. After losing a position, he then came back quickly, taking 15th on lap 9. On lap 10, he overtook the #26 of Sho Hanawa, the car that had been the one to beat since lap 5. He marked his best time on lap 13, and was getting close enough to reach out and touch 12th position. On the final lap, too much pressure must have led to his rival's mistake and Yamamoto went home in 12th place. Moreover, his time on the sectors improved thus: first sector: 3rd fastest; second sector: 4th fastest; 3rd sector: 9th fastest. Even his top speed improved to show him fastest on the first and third sectors, and on the second sector he was 2nd fastest. As for his performance, overtaking eight cars in race battles was certainly an achievement.

The mistake during qualifying seemed to have cursed the whole weekend, but Yamamoto was able to make use of the knowledge, as he was getting used to a different track surface for the first race. His sector times and top speed were improving, getting close to the top contenders. What he needs to do now is to keep this for future races.

Ryuji Yamamoto
"Towards the end of the first race, I was checking on Riki (Christodoulou) as he spun out and returned to the track right in front of me. I was still not sure how to drive on a dry track so I had a good comparison to work with, and this helped me improve my speed. After the race, I checked the data - logger and realized that I was largely behind my teammate at the three high - speed corners and that it was because of the difference in shifting. In the second race, I adapted my shifting style and I was doing better already in the high - speed corners. The speed between my car and the cars in front was steadily improving, and I was able to overtake at the exit of corners. More stability at the rear should improve my handling in the corners. The lessons I learned from this experience will definitely help me at the next race."

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.