SMITH LEAPS INTO THIRD IN CHAMPIONSHIP AFTER SUPERB OULTON DOUBLE Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship title contender Dean Smith produced a thoroughly dominant performance at Oulton Park in Cheshire over the weekend, 30th/31st May, to...
SMITH LEAPS INTO THIRD IN CHAMPIONSHIP AFTER SUPERB OULTON DOUBLE
Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship title contender Dean Smith produced a thoroughly dominant performance at Oulton Park in Cheshire over the weekend, 30th/31st May, to secure a brace of outstanding victories in baking hot conditions.
Sealing his second and third wins of 2009, along with his third pole position start of the year and a brand new lap record, the 20-year-old from Wombourne, near Wolverhampton, is now third in the championship standings after a stunning couple of weeks.
Coming into this year's campaign late after missing the opening two rounds, the Manor Competition racer has done the unthinkable by moving up to third in the driver standings already and is now a serious contender for championship glory -- having finished runner-up in the series in 2007.
"It's been an absolutely fantastic weekend, every lap in both races I pushed as hard as I could to make sure we catch up in the championship and with these two wins today we're definitely getting there", said the delighted West Midlander.
Qualifying third on the grid for the first of the weekend's races, round seven, with a time of 1m18.171 seconds (102.51mph), Dean made a small change to his car for the round eight session and it worked perfectly as he secured his third pole position of the season with a lap of 1m17.964 seconds (102.78mph).
At the start of round seven this morning, Sunday, 31st May, Dean got away from the line fairly well but found himself boxed in through Old Hall Corner which saw him momentarily slip to fourth place but contact between front-row qualifiers James Calado and Dean Stoneman resulted in both being eliminated from the race at Cascades.
Holding second position behind leader Harry Tincknell, Dean remained within a second of his rival during the first few laps before the Safety Car was deployed on lap six due to a car stranded in the gravel at Druids. The re-start came on lap eight and Dean did an outstanding job to grab the lead into Old Hall, a move which started at Lodge Corner at the end of lap seven when Tincknell ran wide.
Knowing he couldn't attempt to pass at the re-start until crossing the start/finish line, the Manor ace timed it to perfection and from that point on he was never headed as he claimed his second win of 2009 in front of ITV4's live television cameras which beamed the action across the UK.
Even better was to come in round eight for the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) Rising Star when he produced a tremendous lights-to-flag victory and also set a new Formula Renault UK lap record for the Oulton Park Island Circuit with a time of 1m18.926 seconds (101.53mph).
Getting away from pole position with perhaps the best start he has ever made, Dean controlled the race and eased to his third win in four races to really stoke the fire on his title bid. Second placed Oli Webb, the current championship leader, did trade fastest laps for a while during the latter part of the race but he didn't have an answer for Dean's extra lap record push on the penultimate lap.
After round seven, Dean moved up from eighth in the title race into the top six but his second win of the day saw him move ahead of early-season pace-setter James Calado, Finnish racer Jesse Krohn and Swedish driver Fredrik Blomstedt into the top three.
Dean commented: "I had to back off at the re-start in the first race as (Harry) Tincknell ran wide at Lodge and I had to make sure I didn't pass him before the line. It all worked out really well though and I'm obviously really happy with the result, it was a fantastic win for me and the team.
"In the second race I think I made the best start I ever have, it was great as I didn't even need to think about blocking the first corner. Once Oli (Webb) was in second place, fair play to him, he did very well and pushed hard.
"All weekend at the second corner I'd been down about two 10ths of a second and I knew during the last few laps I had to find something extra. I did, and that's why I went a lot quicker towards the end before bringing the car home for the win. We need to keep pushing forward and improving all of the time, there's still a long way to go in the championship but this has been a fantastic weekend."
Next on the agenda for Dean will be the ninth and 10th rounds of the 2009 Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship which will take place at Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire two weeks from now over the weekend 13th/14th June.