Sean McIntosh 2006 World Series by Renault Summary McIntosh's open-wheel talents continue to shine in Europe Tuesday 21 November, 2006 - Vancouver's Sean McIntosh relished another successful season abroad as he raced his way to a sixth place ...
Sean McIntosh 2006 World Series by Renault Summary
McIntosh's open-wheel talents continue to shine in Europe
Tuesday 21 November, 2006 - Vancouver's Sean McIntosh relished another successful season abroad as he raced his way to a sixth place finish in the 2006 World Series by Renault. Once again, he was Canada's sole open-wheel racing representative competing in Europe, Formula One's proving ground, were he tackled legendary circuits such as Monaco, Le Mans and Spa-Francorchamps, not to mention 29 equally ambitious international rivals, along the way.
McIntosh's debut in the World Series by Renault followed two decorated seasons in the United Kingdom where he showcased his talents outside North America for the first time by winning the 2004 'Graduate Cup' for top rookie driver in the Formula Renault UK Championship before multiple wins and a championship challenge followed in 2005.
It was a natural progression for the 21-year-old to remain in Renault's open-wheel development ladder in 2006. Following his 2005 Formula Renault UK season, McIntosh proved his talents with more powerful equipment over the 2005-2006 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport winter season, notably with a victory for A1 Team Canada. A move into the World Series by Renault with the Belgian-based KTR squad duly followed. The Canadian would this time be testing his skills with a 425bhp Formula Renault 3.5 single-seater car.
"We set out at the beginning of the year to try and finish in the top-ten at the very minimum and hopefully get a few podiums and possibly a win," McIntosh reflected. "I was disadvantaged by not having had any winter testing with my new team. So, heading into the first pre-season tests in March and April, I was on the back foot a little and it's a big step going from the Formula Renault 2.0-litre car to the 3.5-litre World Series car. That said, looking back at the end of the season, to come away as the highest ranked Formula Renault 2.0-litre graduate is pretty pleasing as the competition level was exceptionally high."
"I'd definitely class 2006 as a successful season for me," he continued. "I scored a couple of podiums and took my first pole at the final round in Barcelona. It would be easy to say that I should have scored a couple of wins at Donington, and if it hadn't been for one or two other issues we could have ended up fighting for a championship as I was a regular top-five runner. But, at the end of the day others could argue the exact same thing. More important to me is the fact that I showed I was quick throughout the season and was capable of competing successfully at this level."
Acknowledging his time served racing in the United Kingdom proved useful as a foundation for stepping up into the World Series by Renault, one of Sean's biggest challenges was learning eight new European circuits with England's Donington Park the only track he'd experienced prior to the start of the season.
Recalling this Sean remarked, "My two seasons competing in the UK were undoubtedly a great learning experience but the venues we raced at weren't necessarily on the same level as the ones I had to face up to this season. You definitely step up when you start racing at places like Monaco, Nurburgring, Spa and Barcelona. I grew up watching races at these circuits on television so to get the chance to actually race on them was fantastic but each time out I was faced with the challenge of having to learn the track. I've done it so many times now that it's not something I let bother me but you could see how comfortable I was when we raced at Donington in England, I was on the pace immediately as I knew the track well from my time in the UK."
Sean's rookie season in the World Series by Renault netted two podium finishes, the first being a second place finish in Round 5 at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium back in July, followed later by a third place finish in Round 9's season-finale in Barcelona, Spain at the end of October.
In addition the young Canadian scored a total of ten top-ten finishes and one pole position on his way to sixth overall in the Driver Standings, the World Series title going to Comtec Racing's sophomore driver, Alx Danielsson from Sweden.
On the highs and lows of his season Sean mused, "The highlight for me was definitely my pole position in Barcelona. We should have had pole at Donington Park but that didn't work out but Spain was sweeter as it came on the last lap of the last qualifying session of the season. It was a great feeling mirrored by my drive through to second place and my first podium finish at Spa. The final race in Barcelona was similarly pleasing as I had secured sixth in the standings and rounded out the season with another podium."
He continued, "The lowest part of the season was definitely Donington Park as I should have been on the front row of the grid but a fuel calculation error in qualifying cost me the position and I was forced to race my way from the back of the field. I still proved something with the pace of the car during the race but we know that was a weekend where I could have won. Other low points include being taken out by other drivers but there's nothing you can do about that unfortunately."
"I think I learned how to work with the team a little bit more," McIntosh commented on what he's taken from the 2006 season. "I was obviously comfortable with Team Firstair who I ran with for two seasons in the UK before joining KTR this year. With a new team you've got to start again and perhaps learn to deal with people differently. When racing in Europe, you're also faced with the challenge of people speaking different languages and so on.
"It was a great experience for me and on top of that I think I learned how to develop the car even more, a fact definitely reflected in my performances over the second half of the season. I had a car that really suited my style of driving and I think that came from the relationship I developed with the team and in particular with my engineer Paul Heath. Europe's a very competitive proving ground and you've got to learn to take care of yourself!"
Proud to be flying the maple leaf flag in European open-wheel racing, McIntosh's talents have been noted on both sides of the Atlantic, something he takes pride from but won't allow him to sit back and take it easy as he continues his rise through the ranks.
"I think when I first raced in England people there didn't have any expectations but I proved over in Formula Renault that I could compete and belonged to be there. I had earned respect and so when it came to moving up into the World Series this year people were already aware of what I could do based on my accomplishments in the UK as well as A1GP. I was more of a known quantity when I graduated to European competition this season!
"The main thing is that if you're quick, it doesn't really matter where you're from. But from a pride perspective it's satisfying to be doing a good job as a Canadian and importantly to have people back in Canada recognise what I'm trying to accomplish over in Europe. Moving up to the highest level of motor racing could be political but the important thing for me is to keep pushing and to win races wherever I compete next season!
Sean returns to driving duties for A1 Team Canada this weekend in Round 4 of the 2006-07 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport in Malaysia, 24-26 November 2006.