MANOR COMPETITION WINS 2009 FORMULA RENAULT UK DRIVER'S TITLE Manor Competition's Dean Smith sealed the 2009 Formula Renault UK Championship with a superb race victory -- the team's seventh of the season -- at Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit on...
MANOR COMPETITION WINS 2009 FORMULA RENAULT UK DRIVER'S TITLE
Manor Competition's Dean Smith sealed the 2009 Formula Renault UK Championship with a superb race victory -- the team's seventh of the season -- at Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit on Sunday, 4th October, to bring the prestigious crown back into the Manor fold for the first time since 2005.
The 2009 driver's title triumph caps a superb year for New Ollerton-based Manor Competition, one in which the team has battled from a 50 point deficit to win the championship with a round to spare after a stunningly consistent campaign. The squad also finishes runner-up in the entrant standings.
Furthermore, 21-year-old Smith adds his name to a star-studded list of past Formula Renault UK Champions run to the title in a Manor badged car, none more famous than FIA Formula One World Champions Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton -- title winners in 2000 and 2003 respectively. Oliver Jarvis, current DTM touring car front-runner with Audi, boosted his career with the title in 2005.
"I'm absolutely over the moon", commented Tony Shaw, "The team has worked unbelievably hard this year and Dean thoroughly deserves the championship, he's an exceptional talent. It's by no means been easy, especially with Dean only returning to the championship after the first couple of rounds had taken place, but that's testament to the effort of the whole team.
"When Dean joined us we had no test prior to Thruxton, it was straight into qualifying but as soon as we had the two-day test at Croft everything clicked. All of the others had winter championships they raced in, testing in the UK and abroad, but Dean went into Thruxton with no mileage at all which makes the end result all the more satisfying."
Shaw continued: "Motor racing is a team sport and our guys are second to none. We've proven again our reliability is fantastic, the processes we have at the workshop are amazing and all of our individuals are very committed and thoroughly professional. Sarah (Shaw), of course, deserves a lot of credit for engineering Dean to the title as does Jeremy (Cotterill) for the huge role he's played this year.
"This championship has produced the last two Formula One Champions, let's not forget, and it's nice to say they drove for us and came through our environment. Our record speaks for itself, Manor as a company is exceptional at bringing on young drivers."
McDonald lucky to escape unscathed from huge qualifying accident The final weekend of the 2009 campaign got underway impressively for Manor with Smith and Surrey teenager David McDonald both producing fantastic pace during Friday's pre-event test with the second and third fastest laps, respectively, on combined timings.
Qualifying was something of a bittersweet affair on Saturday though with Smith claiming pole position for round 19 and McDonald posting the seventh fastest time in the opening session before a huge accident at Westfield Bend destroyed his car and brought an early end to proceedings.
Luckily, the 19-year-old emerged unscathed from the high-speed incident but he later had his best time taken away, as did Smith, after they were deemed to have set their quickest laps when yellow flags were displayed. Nonetheless, Smith's second best effort was still good enough for pole while McDonald slipped to 11th on the grid -- three spots ahead of Alice Powell with Thomas Hylkema 18th.
While Smith totally dominated at the front to win the race and the championship, 16-year-old Oxfordshire racer Powell was Manor's second highest finisher with an excellent drive to 11th position overall and fourth in the Graduate Cup Class.
The team produced a tireless, monumental effort in order to rebuild McDonalds' car in time for the first race of the weekend on Sunday morning but his outing was compromised after sustaining a broken front wing. Having pitted, he ended the race outside the points but Dutchman Hylkema raced very impressively to a superb 13th place finish -- a gain of five positions.
In round 20 Smith climbed into the top three, from fourth on the grid, on the opening lap and hustled second-placed Lewis Williamson all the way to the chequered flag to end the season with yet another podium. McDonald battled through superbly from the back of the grid -- having been forced to miss second qualifying following his major accident -- to take a richly deserved 13th place result.
Powell, meanwhile, ended her first season in single-seaters with 16th place while Hylkema's hopes of another strong run were stymied when given a drive-through penalty after being adjudged to have started the race slightly out of position in his grid box. He finished in 19th place.
"It's been a great year all round for us, we've been delighted with the performance and effort of all of our drivers", added Shaw, "David has got better and better as the year has gone on and we're thankful he was uninjured in qualifying as it was a huge accident. The team did a superb job to give him a repaired car for the races and David showed outstanding determination.
"Thomas again proved he has good pace and without some of the bad luck he's had this season, he would have been a regular in the top 10. Alice has impressed throughout the year, she's been a revelation -- especially considering her age and lack of experience in single-seaters -- and we'd be only too happy to work with all three of them again next year."
Final 2009 Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship Standings: Champion: Dean Smith, 491pts; 12th David McDonald, 213pts; 16th Thomas Hylkema, 121pts; 18th Alice Powell, 88pts
Final 2009 Michelin Formula Renault UK 'Graduate Cup' Standings: 6th Alice Powell, 88pts
Final 2009 Michelin Formula Renault UK Team Standings: 2nd Manor Competition, 753pts