SECOND TOP 10 OF EUROCUP SEASON
Dean Smith raced to his second top 10 result of the 2008 Eurocup Formula Renault season at the Le Mans Bugatti Circuit in France yesterday afternoon, Sunday, 7th September – a good conclusion to the weekend for the British ace after he was forced out of Saturday’s encounter when running in sixth position.Undoubtedly the unluckiest driver in Eurocup Formula Renault this year, the 20-year-old suffered misfortune once again during round nine on Saturday, 6th September, when he was taken out of the race at the first chicane by an errant rival. Making an outstanding start, the Fortec Motorsport ace had brilliantly climbed into sixth position from 11th on the grid but as he exited the chicane he was T-boned by a car travelling straight through the gravel trap, resulting in a bitterly disappointing retirement.Thankfully Sunday’s encounter, round 10, proved to be more straightforward for the talented West Midlands racer although the opening lap wasn’t without some controversy as several cars cut the first chicane to jump ahead.Starting in eighth position, the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) Rising Star gained two places off the start and looked in good shape to challenge for his best result of the year but as he exited the chicane cleanly, several other cars straight-lined the turn to push Dean down to 11th position.He eventually came home in 10th place to achieve his second points-scoring result of the 2008 season but the Fortec racer was rightfully disappointed at the outcome due to the lap one incident.Dean commented: “I did quite well off the start, I managed to pass a couple of cars and moved into about sixth as we went through the first corner but then a lot of people cut the chicane so from sixth, I ended up being about 11th or 12th. We’re expecting several people to be penalised so the result may change. Realistically, we should at least be eighth.“Today’s race was tricky at first as a lot of the other drivers had experience of running in the earlier WEC race. As soon as I got into my rhythm I was ok, towards the end I was catching (Alexander) Sims but we ran out of time. We didn’t have a great set-up but it wasn’t too bad. It’s just such a shame we were taken out of Saturday’s race.”Beginning the weekend strongly, Dean lapped with the fourth quickest time in wet conditions on Friday morning during the first collective test session before improving to third fastest in the second run.Qualifying saw the Fortec driver continue his impressive showing with the third quickest lap of 1m 55.693 seconds (130.1 km/h), easily good enough to progress from his group to the Superpole session. Conditions improved in time for Superpole and although running strongly early on, Dean had to settle for 11th on the grid for round nine with a time of 1m 38.951 seconds (152.1 km/h) due to the fact he was running a wet set-up and dry tyres while several rivals gambled on dry settings which came into their own during the final minutes.
With the first of the weekend’s races lasting little more than a third of a lap for Dean, he wasn’t able to show his undoubted pace and it was all the more disappointing considering his terrific start.He commented: “We had a guaranteed sixth place in Saturday’s race, my luck is just terrible – I can’t believe we were taken out again. I made a good start, moved into 10th place and then as we went through the chicane I decided to hold the inside line. “Some cars made contact but I avoided all of that and coming out of the chicane we had sixth place guaranteed. As I straightened up coming out of the turn, a car behind must have gone straight over the gravel and into the side of my car. It’s just unbelievable the bad luck we’re having this year.”Lining up an improved eighth on the grid for Sunday’s race, Dean achieving a second fastest lap in Superpole of 1m 39.101 seconds, the Fortec driver was just six 10ths of a second shy of the pole position time – an impressive effort.Although the second race didn’t bring the resulted he wanted – particularly in view of the number of cars which wrongly got ahead of him by cutting the chicane on lap one – Dean was nonetheless satisfied to at least finish in the points.There is now a three week break from competitive action for Dean with rounds 11 and 12 of the Eurocup Formula Renault season taking place at Estoril in Portugal over the weekend 27th/28 September.