BRACE OF SNETTERTON PODIUMS BOOST SMITH'S TITLE PUSH British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) Rising Star Dean Smith continued his outstandingly consistent Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship season in fine style at Snetterton Circuit today, ...
BRACE OF SNETTERTON PODIUMS BOOST SMITH'S TITLE PUSH
British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) Rising Star Dean Smith continued his outstandingly consistent Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship season in fine style at Snetterton Circuit today, Sunday, 2nd August, by taking a brace of second place finishes in rounds 13 and 14 of the campaign.
Easily the most consistent of the front-runners over the course of the last 10 races, all of which he has finished on the podium, the Wolverhampton based Manor Competition driver is now only six points shy of the outright series lead. Taking 'drop scores' into consideration though, each driver's lowest two scores deducted from totals before the end of the season, Dean leads by 19 points.
The weekend started very well for the 21-year-old with the fastest time in pre-event testing on Friday and in qualifying on Saturday he secured his fourth pole position start of the year during the round 14 session by an impressive two 10ths of a second, a time of 1m04.851 seconds (108.35mph).
In the earlier round 13 session Dean was on course for pole position with several minutes remaining but was blocked at Russell Chicane which cost him vital time. This also ended up being his final lap as the qualifying period was halted early following an accident involving Matias Laine. Therefore, Dean lined up third on the grid for the first race of the weekend.
At the start of round 13, Dean and namesake Dean Stoneman both made better getaways than the pole-sitter James Calado so the Manor ace moved into second place on the run to Riches Corner but slipped back to third position at the Esses halfway through the lap.
With Stoneman leading, Calado second and Dean in third place, the top three were covered by mere fractions of a second during the early laps with nothing to choose between them. Working hard at the wheel of his Manor car to deal with some understeer issues, the Black Country racer moved back into second place on lap 16 following a moment for Stoneman which dropped him down the order.
Dean's second top two finish of the weekend also came coupled with the fastest lap of the race, a time of 1m05.429 seconds (107.40mph). At the start, he moved away cleanly from pole position but before he had a real chance to press home the advantage, the Safety Car was deployed after a tangle at the Esses involving several midfield cars.
At the re-start on lap six he led away well, but three laps later Stoneman managed to edge ahead at the Esses as Dean battled with oversteer. Although he was unable to retake the lead, Dean adapted his driving style well to drive around the issue and lapped quicker and quicker as the race neared its conclusion before posting the fastest time of the race on lap 16.
Closing to within just seven 10ths of a second of Stoneman as they headed into lap 18, any further progress was halted when the race came to an early finish following an incident involving Manor Competition team-mate Alice Powell and Swedish driver Fredrik Blomstedt. Dean was nonetheless very happy with yet another podium result.
Speaking on another hugely successful weekend, the Kiddisave, Rotech, Cosatto, Britax and Dorel supported racer said: "My start to the second race was good, we changed the car drastically really from the first race as we had a lot understeer but then in the second one we had oversteer!
"To cope with that my driving style had to change so much throughout the race but in the end I worked out what I needed to do and that's why we started to catch Dean (Stoneman) and I set the fastest lap at the end."
He continued: "As a team, we all worked together on the changes and we thought we'd got it just right but it was just a little bit too far. Two podiums is still a very good weekend though and we got two bonus points for the race two fastest lap. It's been hard to catch up having missed the first two rounds and with Thruxton not being a good weekend for us, but the championship is right there now. We need to keep pushing on though to try and get some more wins."
Dean will be back in action four weeks from now with the 15th and 16th rounds of the 2009 Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship taking place at Silverstone National Circuit in Northamptonshire over the weekend 29th/30th August.
Provisional 2009 Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship Standings (after Rd14): 1st Oli Webb, 324pts; 2nd Dean Smith, 318pts; 3rd Dean Stoneman, 308pts