Dean Smith secured his first championship points of the season at the Nurburgring in Germany over the weekend, 30th/31st August, during the latest instalment of the Eurocup Formula Renault season.Racing with Daventry-based Fortec Motorsport, the team which ran the 20-year-old to the Vice-Champion’s position in the 2007 Formula Renault UK Championship, Dean arrived in Germany hoping for a change in fortune after a tough start to his first year of international car racing and this he got with a couple of sound performances.Against the established might of the European opposition, the Wolverhampton based driver recorded a fine top seven finish during the first of the weekend’s races on Saturday, 30th August, having climbed from 13th on the grid during a very competitive run. The result bagged him four championship points.Finishing as the top British driver, Dean went on to add a hard-fought 12th place result to his tally during Sunday’s second encounter. Battling against what appeared to be a slow puncture on his 2.0-litre Formula Renault race car, the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) Rising Star did well to finish so close to the top 10.Speaking after the two Nurburgring races, Dean commented: “Saturday’s race was good, I passed four cars off the start which was great and then about four laps later I overtook another two in one go. I was definitely catching the cars ahead but we didn’t quite have enough in hand to make any further places.“Still, seventh place was a good result – I’m happy with that. It was good to get a few points, especially as we’d been pretty quick all weekend. The first qualifying run was ok but we made a change before the second session which didn’t work out. That was the only bad part of the weekend really in terms of performance.”Dean added: “Sunday’s race wasn’t as good for us, one of the cars in front of me had a problem with his wing which broke up and shattered all over my car. Carbon fibre ended up flying all over the place and we think it might have gone into one of my tyres as the handling wasn’t good after that. It’s quite likely I had a slow puncture.“I suppose 12th position wasn’t too bad in the end, if we can get in the top 10 next weekend at Le Mans I’ll be fairly happy. Hopefully we’ll be able to be competitive and then during the break after next weekend’s races, we can try and take more steps forward with the car.”During Friday’s first collective test session, Dean was fourth fastest having posted a time of 2m 02.864 seconds (150.8 km/h). During the second session, the British ace improved his time by three and a half seconds to 1m 59.280 seconds (155.4 km/h) and was eighth.Into Saturday morning’s qualifying sessions, Dean was fourth fastest in his group with a time of 1m 58.313 seconds (156.6 km/h) and therefore proceeded to the Superpole session where he secured the 13th best time of 1m 58.587 seconds (156.3 km/h).
In the first of the weekend’s two races, Dean fought his way through to seventh position in the end, a great drive to bag the first Eurocup Formula Renault points of his maiden season of international car racing – just 10 seconds behind the race winner after 13 laps of the Nurburgring track. Progress in race two wasn’t as forthcoming due to the handling troubles. Starting in 14th place by way of his second fastest lap in the Superpole session, the 2005 Formula BMW UK Champion did aim to climb into the top 10 once again but a possible puncture restricted his pace and performance.Taking the chequered flag in 13th position, Dean gained one further position after the race due to a time penalty served on Jean Eric Vergne. Considering Dean’s car issues, his best race lap of 2m 00.298 seconds (154.1 km/h) was almost identical to that of the drivers contesting fifth and sixth places, underlining his continued progress.Dean will be back in action just a week from now, 6th/7th September, at Le Mans in France for the ninth and 10th rounds of the Eurocup Formula Renault season. Following collective testing, qualifying and Superpole on Friday, 5th September, round nine will take place on Saturday, 6th September, with round 10 scheduled for Sunday, 7th September.