ONCE AGAIN AT SILVERSTONEFortec Motorsport’s Dean Smith left Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit yesterday afternoon, Sunday, 8th June, confident in the knowledge his Eurocup Formula Renault season is moving in the right direction after a truly stunning performance during the fourth race of the 2008 championship.Somehow bettering his mind-blowing effort from Saturday, where he overtook an incredible 24 cars, the 20-year-old from Wolverhampton lapped with fantastic racing ability and determination yet again today as he fought through from 42nd, and last, on the grid to a richly deserved top 16 finish after 16 laps of action under glorious sunshine.Even though he never had clear laps where he could push for out and out quick times as he made his way through the lengthy train of FR 2.0 cars, Dean still produced the third fastest race lap of any driver with a time of 1m 48.364 seconds (170.8mph) – an indication of what would have been possible had he started anywhere inside the top 20.“I didn’t have a good start really, people were away quite cleanly and I didn’t make up as many places over the first few laps as I did in yesterday’s race”, said Dean, “The car was much better today, we made some changes and they allowed me to catch the cars ahead quicker – we did run less wing today to give better speed down the straights.“The grip levels weren’t too bad with the warmer weather. I had a little bit of understeer but that was when I was behind people. As soon as I had cleared cars it was different. I’m really looking forward to the next races now in Hungary. We still need to improve the car and get even more speed from it but we’ve made a lot of progress since the first round.”Starting from the back of the grid, as he had to in yesterday’s first race due to a technical ruling in qualifying which saw his lap times deleted, Dean made a reasonable getaway and by the end of lap one he had gained five positions. Moving into the top 30 before the end of lap four, the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) Rising Star then gained four additional spots over the next couple of tours and by lap 10 he had moved into 23rd position.Lapping much faster than his rivals – up to 1.9 seconds quicker than those in his immediate company – Dean closed down a three and a half second gap in the space of two laps and into lap 13 he was inside the top 20. Heading into the final lap in 17th position, Dean passed Frenchman Benjamin Lariche to move into the top 16 – a thoroughly superb effort from the West Midlands sensation, gaining an unbelievable 26 positions to even outshine Saturday’s stunning drive.Incredibly, the 2007 McLaren Autosport BRDC Award finalist continued to set quick times as the race entered the closing stages and on the final tour he set his best sectors of the race in the last two thirds of the lap.
Although Dean is still yet to enjoy a maiden Eurocup Formula Renault points result, only the top 10 finishers in each race scoring points, the outstanding pace and skill he has shown throughout the Silverstone weekend prove he has the ability to be a serious challenger during the remainder of the 2008 campaign, with better fortune on his side.Next stop on the Formula Renault Eurocup calendar is a visit to the Hungaroring near Budapest for the fifth and sixth rounds of the championship a month from now, 5th/6th July.