SILVERSTONE NATIONAL PODIUM EARNS SMITH CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD Wolverhampton's Dean Smith moved into the lead of the 2009 Formula Renault UK Championship for the first time at Silverstone National Circuit this afternoon, Sunday, 30th August, by ...
SILVERSTONE NATIONAL PODIUM EARNS SMITH CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD
Wolverhampton's Dean Smith moved into the lead of the 2009 Formula Renault UK Championship for the first time at Silverstone National Circuit this afternoon, Sunday, 30th August, by securing his 11th podium of the season during round 16.
The Manor Competition racer, who took a battling fifth place finish in the earlier 15th round, is now tied on 336 points at the top of the driver standings with long-time series leader Oli Webb. However, when all competitors deduct the two lowest scores from their totals -- as per category regulations -- Dean has a seven point advantage over James Calado with Webb a further 16 points shy.
"Obviously I'm really pleased to have taken another podium, it's our 11th from 14 races, but I'm a bit disappointed we weren't able to fight for a win today", said the 21-year-old, "In the championship things worked out quite well this weekend but we do need to get back on top at Rockingham next time out to try and put some distance between ourselves, Oli (Webb) and James (Calado)."
Lining up fourth on the grid for the second race of the weekend, Wombourne-based Dean made a cracking start in slippery conditions but found himself completely blocked in on the run to Copse behind a sluggish Webb. Holding fourth place at the first corner, the Manor ace immediately set about chasing down third placed Dean Stoneman and he passed him for third at Luffield.
Reeling off some impressive lap times during the early stages, Dean then grabbed second place from Harry Tincknell -- again at Luffield -- and he then proceeded to pull well clear of his pursuers while also catching race leader Calado.
By lap six, the gap to Calado was down to just seven 10ths of a second but as the track progressively dried Dean wasn't able to lap as quickly as his rival and the front two positions remained the same all the way to the chequered flag on lap 22.
In this morning's first race, round 15, the Black Country racer started from sixth on the grid as a result of a tricky qualifying session affected by an oil spillage on the circuit. Dicing for pole position throughout, Dean just missed out by a couple of 10ths of a second in the end but with a handful of other drivers improving on their final run, he slipped to sixth.
Making a good start, the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) Rising Star instantly moved into fifth place and looked set to go into fourth spot but he was boxed out at Copse and slipped behind Bahraini driver Isa Yousif as a result. Dean quickly hit back though into Brooklands to move ahead again into the top five.
Pressuring fourth-placed Harry Tincknell, Dean was clearly the quicker of the two drivers but he just couldn't find the space to make a clean pass and in the end had to settle for fifth position, albeit just eight 10ths of a second behind at the flag.
"I was much happier with the car in the second race", commented Dean, "We set it up to favour slippery conditions more and we were really quick early on. Towards the end, even though it was still quite damp, we started to struggle a bit more compared to (James) Calado. His car just seemed to come on stronger as the track dried.
"Overall it's not been a bad weekend and it's been important to score well in both races for the championship. I'd have liked to have taken two podiums, and a win ideally, but we're in good shape heading to Rockingham in three weeks."
With the 2009 Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship at an absolutely pivotal stage, the penultimate two rounds of the season will take place over the weekend 19th/20th September at Rockingham International Super Sports Car Circuit in Northamptonshire.
Provisional 2009 Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship Standings (after Rd16): 1st Dean Smith & Oli Webb, 366pts; 3rd James Calado, 359pts
Provisional 2009 Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship (after Rd16 -- inc.drop scores): 1st Dean Smith, 366pts; 2nd James Calado, 359pts; 3rd Oli Webb, 343pts