13-14/10/2007, Thruxton Circuit, UK
The final race of the Formula Renault UK Championship (Rounds 19 and 20) took place about an hour southwest of the capital, London on the outskirts of Winchester at Thruxton Circuit (1 lap: 3.793kms). Nissan NISMO scholarship driver and young driver development program (NDDP: Nissan Drivers Development Programme) member Ryuji Yamamoto finished highest ever when he took 5th the second race. Earlier on the same day, he started the first race 21st after trouble prior to the start. He made progress in the race however, moving up 14 places to run 7th at the flag.
|Copyright © Jakob Ebrey Photography |
Unusually nice weather for autumn in Britain and temperatures of 16 degrees Celsius greeted competitors and fans for the scheduled 17:20 start. Qualifying 10th, Yamamoto made a smooth start, held on to his position and made it cleanly into the first corner. He fought intense battles at every corner, passing two cars on the main straight to rise to 8th by the end of the first lap. In addition, on lap 2 he got by the #32 of David Epton (UK) at the final corner to move into seventh. On the following lap, he demoted one-time winner this season Alexander Sims (UK) in the #22 car, before getting ahead of four-time overall winner in a higher-ranked car, the #20 of Will Blatt (UK). He had risen to 5th. After that, on lap 8, a spin by the #9 of Jordan Oakes (UK) brought out the Safety Car, which guided everyone round for the next three laps. For apprtoximately 10 laps, a tail-to-nose battle ensued between Yamamoto and #22 James and for a time a scant 0.3 seconds separated the pair. From beginning to end, he drove a composed race. After 20 laps, he took the chequered flag immediately behind teammate Dean Smith (UK), ranked 2nd this season, crossing the line in 5th place.
Talking about this round's result, Yamamoto beamed enthusiastically
"This time we understood we'd have less rear grip because we ran with the tyres we had used in the previous test. Therefore, I didn't really attack hard from the start while I tried to preserve my rear tyres and think about controlling the car behind me (in the battle with James). I knew how to carry enough pace into the first corner without making a foolish mistake by going off, so that on the straight, he wasn't able to get into mty slipstream. So just staying aware of that while considering the pace."
"On the formation lap I made sure I sufficiently warmed my front tyres, making the balance good in the corners. Set up of the rear springs were a little softer than usual this time to make suitable for my driving style."
|Copyright © Jakob Ebrey Photography |
"While I was having positive exchanges of ideas with my engineer, my teammate looked for a different set-up. In the last race, I showed a positive attack with a composed drive, making my European warrior training worthwhile. My training in Europe has really brought out the racing driver in me, and has made me more of an adult."
With regards the first race, which began at 12:20, just before the start, bad physical condition meant he fell way behind the others as they headed out on track, and he had to start last on the grid. After setting the 3rd-quickest lap of the race, he drove an attacking race, at one point rising as high as 5th. In a battle on the closing lap, front wing damage meant he ended the 20-lap race 8th. Later, disqualification for another competitor saw him win 7th overall, which was expected, really.
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.