DEAN SMITH -- 2009 FORMULA RENAULT UK CHAMPION! Aspiring Formula One driver Dean Smith followed in the wheeltracks of Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton before him at Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit today, Sunday, 4th October, by winning the...
DEAN SMITH -- 2009 FORMULA RENAULT UK CHAMPION!
Aspiring Formula One driver Dean Smith followed in the wheeltracks of Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton before him at Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit today, Sunday, 4th October, by winning the highly prestigious Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship title -- his second car racing crown.
Driving for Manor Competition, the team with which the last two F1 champions won their respective Formula Renault UK titles, 21-year-old Dean clinched the championship in sensational fashion at the 2.3-mile Kent track with a faultless victory during round 19 of the campaign.
Making a perfect getaway from pole position at the beginning of the first of the day's races, the talented Wolverhampton racer ensured the championship was his with one round to spare and then backed the result up with yet another podium, his 15th of the year, with third place in round 20.
"I'm lost for words, it's been a fantastic year and we've worked so hard to win this championship", said the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) Rising Star, "The car has been phenomenal again this weekend, I had a brilliant start to the first race from pole, did what I needed to do and then backed off towards the end. It's been a perfect weekend and an amazing year."
Only returning to Formula Renault UK this year -- having become Vice-Champion in 2007 -- in time for the second event at Thruxton in Hampshire, the Black Country driver's title bid began on the back foot with chief rivals James Calado and Oli Webb already having claimed 52 points and 50 points respectively during the season curtain-raiser at Brands Hatch.
Dean's first podium of the season came with victory during round five at Donington Park which sparked an incredible run of nine further rostrums, including three more wins. After a top five result in round 15 at Silverstone National Circuit, Dean hit the podium trail again and during the final five races he secured three more victories, one second place and one third position.
The story of his phenomenally consistent season can also be told with seven pole position starts, six fastest laps and two 'Driver of the Day' awards. Furthermore, when looking at Dean's points tally it's clear to see he managed to seal the championship within 15 of the 18 races he contested.
He added: "We knew it would be a tough year when we decided to come back to the championship, especially coming in two rounds late. We had an uphill challenge from the start and having finished runner-up in 2007, we had to win the title this time.
"It's been fantastic working with Tony (Shaw) and my race engineer Sarah (Shaw) this year, everyone at Manor has done an incredible job. I'm really happy to be a part of a championship win for them as much as for myself and, personally, it's great to add another title to my Formula BMW one."
Having already impressed in a Formula 3 car during a one-off outing at the end of 2008 in the British F3 International Series, where he secured a brace of superb top four results on his debut, Dean is now looking ahead to a potential graduation to F3 full time in 2010.
Discussions are already taking place with John Booth's Manor Motorsport F3 Euroseries squad but sponsorship negotiations are also ongoing regarding possibilities in the pipeline for a possible move straight into Formula One support category GP2.
"We're talking to John (Booth) about doing the F3 Euroseries with Manor Motorsport next year, it'd be great to continue with Manor", revealed Dean, "However, we do have some discussions taking place with potential sponsors about moving into GP2 -- that would be incredible but we need to see what happens over the next few weeks and months."
Final 2009 Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship Standings: Champion: Dean Smith, 491pts; 2nd James Calado, 457pts; 3rd Oli Webb, 419pts