TREMENDOUS GP3 SERIES DEBUT FOR SMITH IN BARCELONA Racing Steps Foundation-backed GP3 Series racer Dean Smith delivered a tremendous showing during the inaugural event of the new FIA Formula One World Championship-supporting category in...
TREMENDOUS GP3 SERIES DEBUT FOR SMITH IN BARCELONA
Racing Steps Foundation-backed GP3 Series racer Dean Smith delivered a tremendous showing during the inaugural event of the new FIA Formula One World Championship-supporting category in Barcelona over the weekend, 8th/9th May, to conclude the season opener equal fifth in the standings.
The 2009 McLaren Autosport BRDC Award Winner, who resides in Wombourne, Wolverhampton, produced excellent pace in qualifying on Saturday morning at the Spanish venue and went on to record a superb fourth place finish in round one -- a mere 1.5 seconds shy of a debut podium -- and backed the result up well with a strong fifth position in round two.
Reflecting on his maiden weekend of international racing in GP3, Dean commented: "We're obviously really pleased to have started the new season with two strong results and to be in a good position in the championship. There's definitely work to do, more to learn and more pace to find but overall it's been a very good start."
During pre-event testing at the Circuit de Catalunya on Friday, 7th May, the 22-year-old BRDC Superstar started off very well with a highly competitive 10th fastest time of 1m39.297 seconds, only six 10ths of a second shy of the outright pace.
Qualifying on Saturday began with a damp track following overnight rain and due to fairly low temperatures the surface didn't approach anything like drying until well into the closing stages of the session.
Faced with tricky conditions for his maiden GP3 qualifying effort, Dean produced an unsurprisingly assured performance to claim sixth place on the grid for round one with a time of 1m53.600 seconds, just seven 10ths of a second shy of the front row -- the lead Carlin driver.
Even better followed during the first race on Saturday afternoon where Dean raced to a fantastic top four finish, just 1.5 seconds shy of the podium but over three seconds clear of his closest pursuer. It was by no means an easy race as the Tomax managed driver received contact to his right-rear wheel at the start following a spin by Daniel Morad. Coping well with the damage, Dean drove superbly.
He commented: "I think we could have definitely had a podium in race one but fourth was a good result considering I had some contact when trying to avoid (Daniel) Morad. We were really lucky not to have been taken out actually and it was fortunate we didn't end up with a puncture."
In round two, Dean didn't feel as comfortable as during the opening race but still came through to secure a top five finish to close out the weekend equal fifth in the championship, just four points shy of early series leader Robert Wickens.
There is now a three week break ahead of the third and fourth rounds of the GP3 Series which will take place in Istanbul, Turkey, over the weekend 29th/30th May -- once again in support of the Formula One World Championship.