FUEL PRESSURE PROBLEMS DENT SMITH'S POINTS HOPES IN ISTANBUL Wolverhampton's Dean Smith had a frustrating time at Istanbul in Turkey over the weekend, 29th/30th May, when fantastic qualifying pace couldn't be capitalised on during the third and...
FUEL PRESSURE PROBLEMS DENT SMITH'S POINTS HOPES IN ISTANBUL
Wolverhampton's Dean Smith had a frustrating time at Istanbul in Turkey over the weekend, 29th/30th May, when fantastic qualifying pace couldn't be capitalised on during the third and fourth rounds of the 2010 GP3 Series.
The Racing Steps Foundation backed driver, who made an excellent category debut three weeks ago in Barcelona, started the Turkish Grand Prix weekend very well indeed with a superb top three effort during qualifying at the wheel of his Renault-powered Dallara.
Slipping out of the top six at the beginning of round three on Saturday afternoon with a slow getaway, the 22-year-old battled back into sixth place and challenged hard all the way until a couple of laps from the finish when fuel pressure problems caused an unfortunate drop to 22nd place.
Round four on Sunday morning was always going to be a very difficult challenge for Dean from the 11th row of the grid but, unsurprisingly, he did a tremendous job to climb through into the top 10 with a typically strong and committed drive -- gaining 12 positions in total.
Disappointingly missing out on any championship points this weekend, the BRDC Superstar remains in the top 10 of the driver standings on seven points -- tied with seventh placed Rio Haryanto, eighth placed Lucas Foresti, and ninth placed Felipe Guimareas.
"Qualifying was great, the car felt mega and was really well balanced so we had pretty high hopes for the first race", said Dean, "Even though the start wasn't great, we still should have had a top six but the problem with fuel pressure near the end meant we dropped a long way back.
"I was pleased to come through from 22nd to 10th in the second race. It was always going to be hard to get anything like a good finish starting so far back but I think we did a pretty good job. We need to find more race pace before the next rounds. We weren't as strong in the races as in qualifying but at least we managed to stay in the championship top 10, even with the race one problems."
Dean's first ever experience of the Istanbul Park track came on Friday, 28th May, during a short free practice session in which he posted the eighth fastest time, 1m48.760 seconds. Cooler conditions greeted competitors for qualifying where the 2009 McLaren Autosport BRDC Award winner set a terrific time of 1m46.728 seconds -- the quickest Carlin driver and lead British contender.
Fighting very hard with Daniel Morad throughout the first race on Saturday afternoon after recovering from a slow start, the pair chopped and changed position and served up some fantastic race action. On course for a good points finish, Dean's hopes were dashed two laps from the finish when fuel problems forced him to drop down the order to an eventual placing of 22nd, one lap adrift.
Faced with a mountain to climb during Sunday morning's fourth round, starting in his finishing position from the opening encounter, the reigning Formula Renault UK Champion delivered a truly outstanding drive to climb through from 22nd on the grid into the top 10.
Making particularly good progress during the first half of the 15 lap encounter, Dean gained half a dozen places on the first lap alone and the Tomax managed driver underlined his pace and quality by scything his way through to 10th place six laps from the finish.
Valencia in Spain will host rounds five and six of the 2010 GP3 Series four weeks from now, 26th/27th June, in support of the FIA Formula One World Championship's European Grand Prix. Coverage will be screened in the UK through the British Eurosport network on cable and digital satellite TV.