15/07/2007, Donington Park Circuit, UK
Rounds 11 and 12 of the British Formula Renault Championship were held at Donington Park Circuit in central England over the July 14-15 weekend. Round 11 was held on the morning of the 15th but was red-flagged and called off after only four laps had been completed due to a lack of visibility under heavy rain.
|Copyright © Jakob Ebrey Photography
Nissan/NISMO scholarship recipient Ryuji Yamamoto started 11th but lost positions at the start in his effort to safely avoid the confusion at the first corner. Although he fell to 15th, the move worked and he was able to reach the checkered flag. Round 12 was held in the afternoon, but Yamamoto ran off track on the opening lap and was forced to retire.
Located near Nottingham, Donington Park was built in 1931, and held its first Grand Prix in 1933. The race on this weekend was run on the 'National Course', using the shortcut between the two straights linked together by the hairpin on the back of the main straight (3.132km/lap).
These two Formula Renault UK rounds were the first races for the series' entrants to be held at Donington Park; and as there had been no pre-event test, most of the drivers turned out to a track they had never driven before. The two qualifying sessions were held on the 14th, both under cloudy skies. Yamamoto had to work hard in each, tackling the up-down nature of the circuit. The first session ended with him in 11th, the position from where he would start Round 11. For Round 12, he was 15th on the starting grid.
|Copyright © Jakob Ebrey Photography
The first of the two races on the 15th was delayed for 30 minutes from its original 11:00am start due to heavy rain. Yamamoto started 11th and quickly dashed to the first corner, overtaking several cars.However, some of the faster cars had spun and to avoid the confusion,Yamamoto let them overtake him. He crossed his first control line in 15th. He was forced to continue under gravely difficult circumstances however, with a wall of water spray drastically reducing his visibility. The race was red-flagged after only 4 laps had been completed. The safety car then led all the remaining competitors back to the pits. As the weather didn't improve, the round was eventually called off. Round 12 was held later the same day, at 5:46pm.Yamamoto started 15th, but before he could begin his pursuit, he spun at the old hairpin, running off track after carrying too much speed into the corner. The grass was wet and with the gravel being moist, he became bogged down and was forced to retire.
Hiroshi Ebisawa, NISMO Engineer
"Yamamoto is still learning how to drive under the varying grip conditions of the track surfaces, while also tackling the character of the Michelin tyres. It seems that he's having some difficulty getting used to tracks with a big difference in elevation since they are relatively uncommon in Japan. However, his engineer and coach from his Fortec team have been helping him by observing him trackside and by going over the data. He is steadily becoming more familiar with the races here in Europe and how to tackle them. At the moment, his misfortune is that he gets mixed up in the accidents happening around him. If his lap times were consistently 0.2 seconds faster in qualifying sessions, he would be in the top five and the race would be a totally different thing. We look forward to his growth in the latter half of the season, and to seeing opportunities for him as we head towards next season."
"In the first qualifying session I was in fifth position just five minutes from the end. Although I felt the more I drove, the faster I was getting, my engineer told me to return to the pits. In the second session, I was cooling down then going out again, but the team called me in anyway. I'm sure my engineer knows better than me about abrasion and the other issues he worries about, and I did follow the team's instructions. But in future, I need to work on planning out strategies for the qualifying sessions. As for the races, in the second race I had a good start and improved to 11th or so. But then I made a mistake trying to brake before the tyres were sufficiently warm. Recently, my English skills have improved and I am able to better communicate with the team. They're working very hard for me, and so I am really sorry that it always ends up in disappointment."
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.