Sims returns to F3 with a win

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FORMULA 3 driver Alexander Sims made his return racing with a commanding victory in tricky conditions at Silverstone at the weekend.

Entering the final round of the 2011 Cooper Tyres British F3 season as a qualifier for next month’s Macau GP F3 race, Sims was racing with the German Motopark Academy team for his first time.

The Wansford-based driver spent Friday’s practice sessions getting to grips with the car but rain limited the amount of running Sims could do in the practice sessions, which hampered his progress in qualifying.

With this weekend also being the first time Motopark Academy had run on the Cooper tyres, Sims and the team focused on tweaking the set up during qualifying and succeeded in shaving a second off the lap time by the end of the session.

For race one Sims lined up in 12th and by the end of lap one had carved his way through the field to eighth and was sitting behind Huertas. Despite lapping quicker than the Carlin driver, Sims was stuck in a train of cars and unable to find a way past the seventh placed driver and crossed the finish line in eighth for three Championship points.

Race two saw Sims in second for the reverse grid. Faced with a damp track, Sims and the team made the call to start the race on wets. Suffering with some wheel spin at the start, the Motopark Academy driver briefly dropped back to third but had retaken second by the end of lap one.

By the end of lap two Sims was right on the back of leader Foresti and heading into lap three Alexander snatched the lead.

Once in the lead Sims easily pulled away at a rate of over a second a lap. He set a run of fastest laps and crossed the finish line eight seconds ahead of Foresti and with a comfortable victory.

For the final race of the weekend, Sims lined up on the sixth row of the grid. Making a lightning start he was up to eighth by the end of lap one and chasing down sixth placed Fantin. Five laps later Sims had caught and passed the Hitech Racing driver and began hunting down Foresti.

Despite lapping faster than the Fortec driver, Sims was unable to find a way past and running in the dirty air was beginning to hurt his front tyres.

Sims held back in the closing laps to create some clean air and then made one last attempt to pass Foresti on the final lap. He managed to get alongside Foresti on the final corner but the Brazilian driver just pipped him to the post. Sims crossed the finish line in sixth to score a further six championship points.

The former Stamford schoolboy said: “I’m very happy with how this weekend has gone - a win and two top eight finishes is a great achievement.

“This weekend has been all about progression for both me and the team. I was not racing in the championship so I didn’t push too hard plus it’s been a year since I’ve raced in an F3 car.

“It was also Motopark Academy’s first time running on Cooper tyres so it’s been a learning curve for us both.”

He added: “We had limited running time on Friday which hurt us in qualifying but we had good pace in all three races and I’m really pleased to have come away with a win.

“The next race for me will be Macau; one of the truly great races in the world, which I am really looking forward to. I will be racing with the Japanese TOMs team who have a fantastic track record and so we will be hoping for a good result.”