SMITH BACK AT THE TOP AT DONINGTON PARK Manor Competition's Dean Smith (Wolverhampton) made a welcome return in the 2009 Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship with a win and second place during rounds five and six at Donington Park ...
SMITH BACK AT THE TOP AT DONINGTON PARK
Manor Competition's Dean Smith (Wolverhampton) made a welcome return in the 2009 Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship with a win and second place during rounds five and six at Donington Park on 16th/17th May. The 2007 Vice Champion took an impressive lights-to-flag victory in round five followed by a second place in round six.
Fortec Motorsport's James Calado (Worcester) continued his title bid with an impressive drive in round six to take the overall honours but two consistent finishes by Alpine Motorsport's Dean Stoneman (Southampton) sees the 18-year-old still leading the Championship, 10 points clear of Fortec Motorsport's Oli Webb (Knutsford).
Finalnd's Jesse Krohn (Skegness) racing for Mark Burdett Motorsport joined 21-year-old Smith on the podium in round five finishing second alongside Webb while CRS Racing's Lewis Williamson (Golspie, Scotland) also secured his first podium of the 2009 season finishing third in round six.
Dry but blustery conditions greeted the 29 racers for the start of round five. Smith lined up on the grid as the Michelin pole-sitter having just pipped Calado to P1 by 0.001s in Saturday's first qualifying session.
As the lights went out, Smith made the best of his pole-position to lead the field into Redgate closely followed by Calado and Krohn. Calado tried to pass Smith around the outside but was unsuccessful and allowing third place Krohn to slip by the 19-year-old to take second.
Behind the front runners, Webb, Manor Competition's David McDonald (Ewell) and Stoneman were all jostling for position with Australian born Josh Scott (Milton Keynes) also running well in the CRS Racing car having gained three places moving him to seventh from 10th on the grid. Despite an impressive qualifying run which saw him sixth on the grid, Hillspeed's Menasheh Idafar (London) was unable to capitalise dropping down the order by the end of lap one.
As the leaders began to pull away, Stoneman got the run on McDonald going into Redgate passing him for fifth place only for McDonald to retake the position as the two cars continued to battle around the 1.9573-mile circuit. The fight for fifth and sixth continued with Stoneman again passing McDonald at Redgate only for the reigning Graduate Cup driver to run wide at the Old Hairpin to once again hand the place back to McDonald.
In the midfield, Hitech Junior's Jordan Oakes (Hopton on Sea) was forced wide at McLeans by leading Graduate Cup racer Harry Tincknell (Exeter) in the CRS Racing car as the two drivers competed for eighth and ninth places. Oakes spun into the tyres ending his race while Tincknell continued his, with the whole incident watched closely by the Clerk of the Course.
As the race progressed, Smith continued to push developing a sizeable cushion while behind him Calado was trying hard to regain second place from Krohn allowing fourth place Webb to catch. Krohn responded setting the NGK Fastest Lap on lap 12 with a time of 1min 05.862s (106.98mph average) and setting a new lap record in the process -- beating the previous time set by 2008 Vice Champion Andriano Buzaid last year and earning two extra Championship points.
In the midfield, Manor Competition's Alice Powell (Chipping Norton) -- who until the race meeting had very little knowledge of the circuit having missed testing due to GCSE exams -- was driving confidently to hold off a total of five chasing cars all hoping to get inside the top 10.
Meanwhile, Williamson was also running well having moved his way up the field to eighth after starting 14th on the grid as did the 2008 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Champion Ollie Hancock (Hook) -- now racing as a driver entry having parted company with Apotex Scorpio -- running in 13th after starting 18th.
As the race entered the final stages, Calado tried once more to take Krohn on the exit to Coppice but clipped the curb causing him to spin and drop well down the order leaving Webb, who only narrowly avoided the spinning car, to move into a podium finish.
The chequered flag belonged to Smith with Krohn in second and Webb in third. McDonald, who was still holding off a determined Stoneman took fourth with the Southampton racer in fifth. Ticknell crossed the line in sixth but following an investigation by the Clerk of the Course, his move on Oakes was deemed unacceptable and severe enough to have him excluded from the race promoting Powell -- who was awarded the ELF/Atol Driver of the Day -- to the leading Graduate Cup driver.
Calado back on top
Watched by crowds of thousands both at the circuit and live on ITV4, round six saw Smith once again as the Michelin pole-sitter following a nail-biting second qualifying session on Saturday which, due to changing weather conditions, saw drivers and teams struggling over tyre selection.
For the start of the race, the tyre choice was obviously wets following an earlier heavy downpour. Smith got away well as did Williamson who shot from fifth to second with Alpine Motorsport's Isa Yousif (Southampton) also making a strong start in the middle of the order. The race was soon halted though after contact between TA1 Motorsport's Tom Armour (Billericay) and Hitech Junior's Nick Yelloly (Solihull) saw the Safety Car deployed at the end of lap one.
Racing resumed on lap three with the race distance increased from 16 to 18 laps. Second place Williamson was soon challenging Smith around the outside of Redgate but was unsuccessful allowing Calado to catch and Smith to pull away developing a 1.178s cushion. Calado quickly capitalised passing Williamson at Hollywood and soon catching Smith leaving Williamson to now defend against fourth place Hancock.
Meanwhile, in the midfield, Scott, Webb and Stoneman were all running strongly while further back, Krohn, was trying to make up for a poor grid position (25th) by moving his way through the field.
A few laps later Calado was soon challenging Smith for the lead with the two drivers swapping position at the Old Hairpin before Calado eventually got through at the same corner on lap 11. Waved yellow flags at McLeans also prevented Smith from any attempt to retake the position and allowing Calado to pull away.
As Calado stretched his lead, often veering off the racing line to cool his wet tyres, the midfield contest was intensifying with Krohn now up into seventh and Hitech Junior's Hungarian racer Tama's Pa'l Kiss (Silverstone), up into eighth and the leading Graduate Cup driver.
On lap 15 an over enthusiastic Krohn made contact with sixth place Stoneman causing his front-left wishbone and tyre to be damaged and dropping him down the order. Krohn continued racing on three wheels despite being black flagged as he continued to lose places.
As the race neared the end, Calado made one last push for maximum Championship points setting the NGK Fastest Lap with a time of 1min 16.385s (92.24mph average) before taking the chequered flag and his third race win. Smith finished second while Williamson -- who was given the ELF/Atol Driver of the Day -- only just managed to hang on to third after a last minute dash for the line by fourth place Hancock.
Commenting on his performance, Smith - who was also presented with a special Driver of the Day award by the Donington Park Supporters' Club - said: "I got a good start in round five and could see Calado trying to make a move on me around the outside of Redgate but I managed to hold him off and then it was just a case of building my lead lap by lap. In round six, Calado just had the quicker car with better traction but I'm delighted with how the weekend has gone and looking forward to Oulton Park."
Round six winner Calado said: "I knew we were quick in the wet and when I finally got pass Dean [Smith] I just went for it because I wanted to score maximum points by getting the fastest lap. With the racing line drying it was hard to keep the wet tyres cool but it makes up for what happened in round five, plus there's still a long way to go in the Championship!"
Rounds seven and eight of the 2009 Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship take place at Cheshire's Oulton Park on 30th/31st May. The opening round of the Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship also begins at the Cheshire circuit on the Saturday before (23rd May).
-creidt: frenault uk