2000: Keith Dempsey quick in Formula Renault testing

Keith Dempsey opened his 2001 Formula Renault motor racing campaign last week with successful tests at Donington Park and Silverstone. His time at Silverstone would have put him on the front row for last season's winter-series race! Driving his...

Keith Dempsey opened his 2001 Formula Renault motor racing campaign last week with successful tests at Donington Park and Silverstone. His time at Silverstone would have put him on the front row for last season's winter-series race!

Driving his Team CDR car, the young Irish driver impressed both his team and onlookers with his pace at this early stage of the season. He had never driven at either circuit before last week, but showed his potential with outstanding tests at both venues.

Thursday morning he tested on the National circuit at Donington Park. "This is really just a shakedown test", Keith explained during a short break. "We don't race here this season, so we are just sorting the car out ready for our test at Silverstone tomorrow."

The next day, Friday, Keith tested for the first time at Silverstone, on the National circuit. Although the Renault Eurocup will visit the Grand Prix circuit in May, several of the corners are the same and this gave Keith his first opportunity to try one of the championship venues. For the first hour, Keith sensibly learned the circuit. In the second session he increased his pace, making some small adjustments to the car.

For the final hour, Keith fitted some fresher tyres to the car although these had still done some 30 laps. On nearly every lap he came across a slower car at some part of the circuit - with the exception of one Formula 3 car Keith was the quickest driver on the track. However, he managed to set several times under 57 seconds and finished the day with a best time of 56.7 seconds for the 1.639 mile circuit. This would have given him a position on the front row of the grid for the winter series race held last autumn in similar weather conditions.

Team Manager Cliff Dempsey was pleased with Keith's performance: "While the traffic wasn't particularly heavy, it still got in Keith's way on nearly every lap", he stated. "With a clear lap, I believe he could have gone even quicker. I am very encouraged that Keith is setting such competitive times so early in the season - he should be in with an excellent chance for good race results when the series starts next month."

Keith stays on to test on Silverstone's International circuit next Tuesday, and then moves on to the continent to test on more championship circuits.

The Formula Renault Eurocup opens at Italy's famous Monza Grand Prix circuit on 31 March 2001.

-Nigel Wordsworth

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Series Formula Renault