DOUBLE WIN FOR SMITH AT OULTON PARK Manor Competition's Dean Smith (Wolverhampton) continued his excellent run of form in the 2009 Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship with a double win at Oulton Park on 30th/31st May. The 2007 Vice ...
DOUBLE WIN FOR SMITH AT OULTON PARK
Manor Competition's Dean Smith (Wolverhampton) continued his excellent run of form in the 2009 Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship with a double win at Oulton Park on 30th/31st May. The 2007 Vice Champion took victory in round seven and eight at the 2.2260-mile Cheshire circuit to move him into third place in the drivers' standings.
Fortec Motorsport's Oli Webb (Knutsford), racing on his local circuit, secured two podiums (third and second) though to come away as overall Championship leader, 15-points ahead of Alpine Motorsport's Dean Stoneman (Southampton) who finished third in round eight. CRS Racing's Harry Tincknell (Exeter) picked up the remaining podium in round seven to extend his lead as the top Graduate Cup driver.
Smith takes the double...
In glorious sunshine, a packed Oulton Park crowd of thousands waited in anticipation for the start of round eight. Following Saturday's qualifying session, Smith led the field as the Michelin pole-sitter with Webb alongside him for company on a 2 x 2 grid formation.
As the lights went out on the 15 lap race, the Black Country racer made the most of his advantage to lead the field into the first corner with Fortec Motorsport's James Calado (Worcester) moving up to second ahead of Webb followed by Stoneman and Tincknell.
Second place Calado pushed hard on the opening lap to try and pass Smith but ran wide at Druids allowing Webb, who was now in second, and Stoneman to pass dropping the 19-year-old down to fourth.
With a clear track in front of him, Smith quickly established a cushion between him and Webb while behind the leading pair Calado was battling hard to make up for his earlier mistake.
In the midfield, Manor Competition's Alice Powell (Chipping Norton) was right on the back of Australian Josh Scott's (Milton Keynes) CRS Racing car with the 16-year-old racer -- who was also awarded the ELF/Atol Driver of the Day -- finally getting the better of him at Old Hall on lap eight. The same lap also saw Mark Burdett Motorsport's Jesse Krohn (Skegness) pass CRS Racing's Matias Laine (FIN) to move the Finish driver up to seventh chasing Fortec Motorsport's Fredrik Blomstedt's (Northampton) in sixth.
As the race continued Scott lost a couple more places while out in front Webb and Smith were swapping NGK fastest lap times, with each racer shaving tenths of a second off the lap record in the process.
Meanwhile in the midfield, Powell was now facing increasing pressure from team-mate Thomas Hylkema (NED) who was looking to take Alice's top ten place. Fellow team-mate Smith was now also coming under pressure from second place Webb who was starting to reduce the 21-year-old's lead.
Smith responded though by setting the NGK fastest lap and a new lap record on the penultimate lap posting a time of 1min 18.926s (101.53mph average). With Webb unable to challenge, Smith crossed the line for the second time that day to take the chequered flag. The Knutsford driver finished second and become the Championship leader, with Stoneman in third and Calado in fourth. Tincknell finished fifth as well as the leading Graduate Cup driver for the round.
Smith on top...
Calado came to the start line for round seven as Michelin pole-sitter with title rival Stoneman alongside him on the front row. As the lights went out, it was Stoneman who made the better start to lead the field with Tincknell and Smith also coming through strongly.
As the pack entered Cascades, Calado and Hitech Junior's Jordan Oakes (Hopton on Sea) made contact causing both drivers to spin with Calado clipping the back of Stoneman's car in the process puncturing his rear tyre. In the aftermath, it was Tincknell who emerged as the race leader followed by Smith, Manor team-mate David McDonald (Ewell) and Webb.
The opening laps also saw retirements for Powell, despite having one of her best starting positions (eighth), as well as Hitech Junior's Tama's Pa'l Kiss (Silverstone) and CRS Racing's Lewis Williamson (Golspie) - promoting Krohn and Blomstedt up the order. Webb was also able to slip by McDonald in the earlier stages to move into a podium finish.
As the leading pair began to pull away, a spin by Alpine Motorsport's Isa Yousif (Southampton) led to the Safety Car being deployed at the start of lap five, allowing the pack to close up.
Two laps later, the lights on the Safety Car went out indicating racing would resume at the start of lap eight. However, race leader Tincknell got out of shape exiting Lodge Corner allowing Smith to close in and draw alongside. With Smith not allowed to pass until crossing the start/finish line, the Wolverhampton racer timed his move superbly to get ahead of Tincknell and lead into Old Hall.
With the race distance increased to 17 laps, Smith quickly showed his ease up front to pull away from Tincknell who now had a determined Webb in his mirrors challenging for second. Meanwhile, after pitting to change his tyre, Stoneman was already working his way through the order, moving up to 13th by the end of lap 12.
As the race entered its final stages, it was Tincknell's turn to push, setting the NGK fastest lap on lap 15 with a time of 1min 19.197s (101.18mph average).
The chequered flag belonged to Smith -- as well as the ELF/Atol Driver of the Day award --followed by Tincknell, still chasing his first race win, in second and Webb in third. McDonald claimed fourth with Blomstedt in fifth and Krohn in sixth, with Stoneman finally crossing the line in 11th. RS Racing's Ryan Singleton (Llanfairfechan, Wales) also picked up his first Championship points with a season best of 14th.
A post race investigation by the Clerk of the Course, however, indicated that Stoneman had cut part of the circuit and handing him a 10-second time penalty as a result, dropping him to 18th. Driver entry Ollie Hancock (Hook, Hants) was also issued with a time penalty for overtaking under Safety Car conditions seeing the 21-year-old demoted to 17th.
Commenting on his performance for the weekend, a delighted Smith said: "It's just been such a fantastic weekend! In the first race, Harry pushed too hard, too early at the restart allowing me to get close. I had to be really careful to time my move exactly though as I knew I couldn't pass before the line. Round eight was still tough as I had been having problems with losing time through Cascades but I managed to get those few tenths back to keep Oli [Webb] behind me."
Double podium finisher and current Championship leader Webb said: "I'm a big fan of Oulton Park with it being my local circuit so was hoping to go well here and to come away with two podiums is amazing. I just couldn't catch Harry to challenge for second in round seven but with Dean [Stoneman] down the field, I was happy to settle for third and pick up the points. It was a similar story in round eight as I tried to be both aggressive and cautious at the same time."
Third place in round seven and leading Graduate Cup driver Tincknell said: "I managed to get ahead of Dean [Smith] on the first lap in round seven but I got the restart all wrong and just tried too hard. I'm obviously disappointed not to have picked up a win but it's still more championship points and extends my lead in the Graduate Cup."
Meanwhile, third place in round eight, Stoneman added: "I'm disappointed with the time penalty in the first race which undid all the places I had regained. To end up on the podium makes up for it though and on the whole it's been a good weekend."
Rounds nine and 10 of the 2009 Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship take place at North Yorkshire's Croft circuit on 13th/14th June.
-credit: frenault uk