DOUBLE POLE AND FIRST WIN OF SEASON FOR SMITH AT DONINGTON Wolverhampton's Dean Smith got his 2009 Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship season firmly on track at Donington Park over the weekend, 16th/17th May, with a fantastic double pole ...
DOUBLE POLE AND FIRST WIN OF SEASON FOR SMITH AT DONINGTON
Wolverhampton's Dean Smith got his 2009 Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship season firmly on track at Donington Park over the weekend, 16th/17th May, with a fantastic double pole position and classy victory during the fifth round of the campaign.
Showing exactly why he is a serious contender for this year's title, even though he arrived in the series on the back foot having missed the pre-season and the first two rounds, the 21-year-old's stunning performance at the East Midlands track -- in very tricky conditions -- has lifted him into the top eight of the driver standings already, now just 54 points behind series leader Dean Stoneman.
Dean also had the honour of being awarded the Donington Park Racing Association Club (DPRAC) trophy as the driver to have scored most points during this weekend's Formula Renault UK races, a prestigious accolade held in the past by star drivers including Kelvin Burt, Dario Franchitti and Jamie Campbell-Walter.
"It's been a fantastic weekend, two pole positions and a win speaks for itself really", commented Dean, "In the dry we know we've got the pace to win and we showed that this weekend, the test we had at Croft recently gave me the time we needed to work with the team towards a good set-up, we brought that set-up to Donington and it worked really well.
"In the wet second race we didn't have the same edge but as a team we haven't done enough wet testing yet. With our deal coming so late I haven't had a chance to run in those conditions with Manor but we know what we need to do now to the car if we're faced with the same conditions."
He added: "When you haven't had any pre-season testing you're always going to be coming from behind but to have taken two pole positions and a win this weekend shows how much progress we're making. I'm really pleased and I can't wait for Oulton Park now in a couple of weeks."
The weekend started well for Dean with a top three performance during pre-event practice but better was to follow in qualifying on Saturday morning when he secured his -- and the Manor Competition team's -- first pole position of the season before going on to do the double with the fastest time in second qualifying as well.
Getting off the line well at the start of round five on Sunday morning, Dean hugged the inside into Redgate Corner to keep James Calado at bay and then had to fend off the challenge of Jesse Krohn who battled past Calado for second.
Reeling off fastest lap after fastest lap during the first half of the race, the Wombourne-based driver pulled away from his pursuers without trouble and was never headed on his way to a winning margin of over three seconds from Finnish racer Krohn.
In race two, which took place on a wet track to begin following earlier rain, the Manor star did get some initial wheelspin as he lit up the rear tyres off the grid but still managed to get a better start than second placed Calado to lead through turn one.
Following a multi-car tangle at Redgate on the opening lap, the Safety Car was deployed and when the re-start came on lap four, Dean handled it well to maintain his place at the head of the pack. As the track started to dry more and more, it became apparent Calado had a faster car for those conditions. Fending off his rival brilliantly, Dean finally had to succumb on lap 11 at the Old Hairpin.
Maintaining second place without problem, the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) Rising Star crossed the line on lap 18 in second place to bag 28 more points and firmly announce himself as a true championship contender with six of the 20 rounds completed.
Following the weekend's action at Donington, Dean is eighth in the driver standings -- up from 17th position in the title race after his first two races of the season at Thruxton in Hampshire three weeks ago -- and now has his sights set on a similarly strong performance at the challenging Oulton Park Island Circuit in Cheshire two weeks from now, 30th/31st May.