Formula Renault UK 2007

Round15&16 Brands Hatch 2007.08.17 sat. - 08.18 sun

Ryuji Yamamoto Struggles on Second Visit to Brands Hatch

18-19/08/2007, Brands Hatch Circuit, UK

Rounds 15 and 16 of the British Formula Renault Championship were held at Brands Hatch Circuit in Kent, England. Nissan/NISMO scholarship driver Ryuji Yamamoto started Round 15 in 6th place, finishing the race 13th. For Round 16, held on the same afternoon, he started 17th and improved three positions to 14th place. However, the rankings were revised after the race and his position was amended to 13th.

Brands Hatch is known for its Grand Prix Circuit, which hosted Formula One until the mid '80s. The Formula Renault series returned once again after its initial visit to the track for the opening round of the season. The series used the Indy Circuit, a boomerang-shaped 1.929km short track with high-speed corners, hairpin curves and many elevation changes.

Copyright © Jakob Ebrey Photography 
Free practice was held on the 17th in dry conditions. Yamamoto struggled through sector 1, especially at the 1st corner (Paddock Hill Bend) where the car must turn in to a blind right-hander that runs down hill; and also at the third corner which goes down in to Cooper through a high-speed left turn - these two sections of track giving him the most difficulty throughout the lap. His task had always been to attain that single opportunity to make everything right for qualifying. He tackled his problems but was still lost through not being able to find the right formula for a completely successful lap.

Qualifying for Round 15 was held on the morning of the 18th. The track was steadily drying from rain the night before, so it was important for Yamamoto to save his tyres in the beginning and warm them up later when the track was drier. He returned to the pits, adjusted the air in his tyres, and went out for his lap. His tactics worked here and he took a 6th-place start, his personal best this season. However, qualifying for Round 16 did not work as planned and he sank to 17th as he failed to achieve his objective.

Conditions on the morning of the 19th were very wet, with rain falling heavily. The track was completely soaked for the start of Round 15. Yamamoto attempted to keep his car's revs low and not spin his wheels, but failed to do so, sinking to 13th place. On the first corner of lap 11, Yamamoto's teammate in car #2, Dean Smith (UK), had been in sixth before he spun, returning to the track right in front of Yamamoto. This allowed his other teammate Riki Christodoulou (UK) in the #4 car catch up from 17th and overtake him. Being in 14th place, Yamamoto and his Fortec teammates were all lined up together in single file. Yamamoto then overtook Smith again as he found the Briton wasn't able to maintain his speed. Yamamoto kept this position to the end, receiving the checkered flag in 13th.

Round 16 was held in the evening and by this time the track had dried. He didn't make a very good start, but as the #11 of Alex Morgan (UK) made a mistake, Yamamoto succeeded in making up one position. On the second lap however, Yamamoto lost speed on the final corner when the rear of his car slid wide as he stepped on the gas too early - resulting in his losing two positions. Not much else happened for Yamamoto during the race, but with other cars getting drive-through penalties and going off track, he took the checkered flag in 14th place. It was discovered after the race however, that his teammate and winner of both races this weekend, Duncan Tappy (UK) was disqualified from Round 16 for a breach of the Technical Regulations. Yamamoto thus found himself promoted to a 13th-place finish.

Ryuji Yamamoto
Copyright © Jakob Ebrey Photography 
"I am always good at the start of practice, but it gets worse as I go on. I change the set ups, change my style of driving - I do all sorts of things with my engineer, but maybe it has to do with my mental state as well. I have problems when I go in to high-speed corners with new tyres on a dry surface. I always had problems in the A-corner and 100R at Fuji last year. I suppose it's the aerodynamics I need to work on. I am getting better in the rain, and I have two more races this year. I am also making a one-off entry in the French Championship, and I hope I can do better there."

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 continue to support four young drivers with scholarships and in their entry to FCJ.