McIntosh bounces back at Brands Brands Hatch, England (June 5, 2005) -- Formula Renault UK challenger Sean McIntosh bounced back from an electrical malfunction at Brands Hatch this morning, which stalled the Canadian on the start grid in Round...
McIntosh bounces back at Brands
Brands Hatch, England (June 5, 2005) -- Formula Renault UK challenger Sean McIntosh bounced back from an electrical malfunction at Brands Hatch this morning, which stalled the Canadian on the start grid in Round 5, to just miss out on a podium finish in Round 6 this afternoon, the 20-year-old taking the checkered flag in fourth just three tenths of a second shy of a top-three result.
Yesterday's qualifying sessions placed the inaugural 'Graduate Cup' Champion fifth on the grid for today's double-header 24-lap sprints round the 1.22-mile Indy Circuit at Brands Hatch. The Kent venue once again produced the tightest grids of the season with the Formula Renault UK field split by just over a second in the first session and less than seven tenths of a second in Round 6 qualifying.
While Sean's plan of attack was to make up places at the start of Round 5 this morning, with overtaking notoriously difficult on the Indy Circuit, electrical gremlins quickly altered the Vancouver-native's strategy as the field toured round on the warm-up lap. The electrical malfunction that materialized repeatedly stalled McIntosh's engine. Sean successfully wrestled the #24 Team Firstair entry to the start grid, with his engine intermittently cutting in and out, but as the start lights flicked from red to green the Canadian once again found himself without horsepower and he quickly dropped down the order as the field streaked by.
Sean got going but immediately found himself down in 15th and quite literally powerless to make progress as he continued to battle the car's on-going electrical problem as well as the cars ahead of him, with overtaking virtually impossible at Brands Hatch. Demonstrating exceptional car control in frustrating circumstances, Sean nursed his stricken car to a 15th place finish at the flag.
Round 6 this afternoon brought Sean back into the thick of the action as the Team Firstair crew worked relentlessly during the break to locate and subsequently eradicate the electrical problems that blighted the first race. Sean, together with his engineer Chris Gorne, opted for a couple of additional set-up changes which greatly improved the car's handling enabling him to race up-front.
The race proved to be somewhat processional as the running order remained static for the first ten laps, Sean holding fifth, until Patrick Hogan fired his car off and into the gravel at Paddock Hill Bend from a solid second place. With the entire field gaining a place and the race extended to 27-laps to make up for the ensuing safety car period, Sean stepped up to fourth and looked to make a move on Sebastian Hohenthal ahead of him.
His opportunity came on the last lap as the Swedish racer ran wide at Druids. While Sean ran deep to try and snatch the final podium place Hohenthal kept it together to inch ahead of his Canadian rival -- the battling duo separated by a mere three tenths of a second at the checkered flag.
Following a long day with mixed fortunes McIntosh remained optimistic about his championship challenge.
"There are definitely positives we can come away with today," Sean commented. "The problems this morning were frustrating but in the Formula Renault UK Championship you get to drop your three lowest scores from your final points tally so hopefully my 15th place finish is one to go! Obviously it leaves little room for error and there are still another 14 races remaining after this weekend but we showed we could bounce back and get to the front where we belong.
"I have to say that the team did a phenomenal job to turn things around today and the car this afternoon was probably the best it's been all season. We had the pace to run at the front, that's evident when you look at just how tight the lap times were, and when we return to race at Brands Hatch in October we'll be in much better shape!"
Oulton Park hosts Rounds 7 and 8 of the 2005 Formula Renault Championship in two weeks time, 18th-19th June, and Sean has every reason to look forward to a return to the Cheshire circuit. Last year at Oulton he became the first Canadian to ever win a Formula Renault UK race, the rookie racer dominating proceedings in just his seventh start.
Sean's back on home territory next weekend as he takes in a flying visit to Montreal to sample Formula One action at the Canadian Grand Prix, 10th-12th June. With visits to the F1 paddock and several media engagements lined-up, Sean's 'weekend off' looks set to be a busy one!