Wolverhampton’s Dean Smith produced a truly outstanding performance on his full Porsche Carrera Cup GB Championship debut at Brands Hatch in Kent today, Saturday, 4th April, during the opening round of the 2009 season.
Agreeing a late deal with crack squad Redline Racing on Wednesday of this week to contest the first event of the year, having seen his bid to graduate to Formula 3 racing scuppered due to a budget shortfall, the 21-year-old single-seater champion wasted no time in proving his credentials as a top-line racer in any car by securing a richly deserved top five result.
Realistically, Dean could have been a podium contender having posted the fifth fastest time in qualifying – courtesy of a lap of 47.454 seconds (90.93mph), just 0.268 seconds shy of pole position – but a race-long battle with Glynn Geddie allowed the top three to pull away.
Making a good start from the third row of the grid, the Kiddisave-backed racer was very unfortunate to get boxed out into Paddock Hill Bend for the first time and slipped to sixth as Tom Bradshaw sneaked by Geddie on the inside.
Running bravely around the outside of Geddie at Druids Hairpin, Dean couldn’t quite get the nose of his car ahead into Graham Hill Bend and so slotted in behind. Just a couple of 10ths of a second behind Geddie lap after lap, the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) Rising Star showed excellent pace, just three 10ths of a second shy of the lap times posted by eventual winner Tim Bridgman.
As the first third of the race concluded, there was no question Dean was being held up but with just one genuine racing line on the tight Brands Hatch Indy Circuit, finding a way by was all-but impossible without the driver ahead making a mistake.
Dean’s first opportunity came on lap 11 as he got superb drive out of Graham Hill Bend and managed to nose alongside the rear quarter of Geddie’s Porsche. Edging ahead on the inside into Surtees, Dean moved into fifth place momentarily but the momentum he was carrying resulted in the West Midlander having to run slightly wide on the exit which allowed Geddie back through.
Although having lost time, the Redline ace was rapidly back on the case and after a Safety Car period around mid-distance – which was caused by a couple of cars making contact at Paddock Hill Bend on lap 15 – he once again had Geddie under pressure. On lap 24, the breakthrough came when Geddie ran wide on the exit of Paddock Hill and fifth place was Dean’s for the taking.
“I’m really pleased with a top five result but I’m sure if we had been able to get away with the top three we could have challenged for a podium”, said Dean after round one, “Our pace in qualifying was really good and my race pace was great but overtaking at Brands Indy is almost impossible.
“I only got behind the wheel of the car for the first time during practice on Friday so to come away with a fifth place is a good start, especially as this isn’t one of my favourite tracks! The team is fantastic to work with, they’re very professional, and I’m hopeful tomorrow we can probably mount a challenge for a debut podium.”
Round two of the 2009 Porsche Carrera Cup GB Championship is scheduled to take place at 15.05 today, Sunday, 5th April, at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit and is expected to be screened live on ITV4 which is available at channel 28 on Freeview, through channel 117 on cable and at channel 120 on the Sky Digital platform.