Smith To Make Surprise Race Return


Manor Competition is delighted to announce all four of its cars will be in action at Thruxton Circuit this weekend, 25th/26th April, after agreeing an 11th hour deal with 2007 Vice-Champion Dean Smith ahead of the third and fourth rounds of the Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship.

Although the hugely talented Wolverhampton 21-year-old had originally switched to sportscars this year, making a sparkling debut in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB Championship three weeks ago at Brands Hatch in Kent, his desire to remain in single-seaters was undiminished.

Having agreed a season-long deal with Manor Competition co-owners Tony and Sarah Shaw this week, Smith will make his welcome return to Formula Renault UK in Hampshire at the weekend, lining up alongside new team-mates Thomas Hylkema, David McDonald and Alice Powell.

“We’re obviously over the moon to have Dean on-board for the rest of the season and although he missed the opening two rounds at Brands Hatch and the Thruxton test, we’re still confident he can be a threat in the championship battle”, said a delighted Tony Shaw.

“Sarah will engineer Dean’s car and she’s very much looking forward to it. It was always part of our plan to have another experienced driver in the team as well as Thomas this year and we’re delighted it’s all come to fruition. We had to bide our time but the patience has paid off and that’s very satisfying. Dean’s knowledge and ability will complement that of our other drivers very well.”

Putting pen to paper on a deal for the remainder of the 2009 season, Smith’s plan is to strive for as many podium finishes and race wins as possible before going on to compete in the world’s most prestigious Formula 3 race at the end of the year, the 56th Macau F3 Grand Prix in late-November.

Looking ahead to his competitive Formula Renault UK return, the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) Rising Star commented: “I’m very happy to be back in Formula Renault UK and really looking forward to working with Tony and Sarah. We tested with the team earlier in the year and it went very well, Manor is a fantastic team and I’m sure we’ll enjoy some really good results together.

“I thoroughly enjoyed racing the Porsche at Brands Hatch but single-seater racing is where my heart lies and my ambition is to make the step-up to Formula 3 full-time at the end of the year at Macau so staying fresh in Formula Renault UK makes complete sense to us. It’s important to be racing on the BTCC package too, it’s the biggest in the UK and with live TV too, it’ll all help our sponsor push.”

Smith added: “Obviously I’d love to win the championship having come very close to doing that a couple of years ago but we’re being realistic, we know after missing the first two rounds it’ll be a tall order. We’re going out to win as many races as we can though and if the championship is there to be had at the end of it, that’ll be a major bonus for me and the team.”

Following a stellar karting career, Smith graduated to cars in 2004 after winning a scholarship to race in the Formula BMW UK Championship. Winning the title in only his second season with three victories and nine other podiums, he stepped-up to Formula Renault UK in 2006 and went on to become the category Vice-Champion in 2007 where he took three wins and 14 podiums.

Named a McLaren Autosport BRDC Award finalist and a BRDC Rising Star, Smith then raced in Eurocup Formula Renault in 2008 and also made his competitive Formula 3 debut at Donington Park where he secured a brace of outstanding top four finishes during the British championship finale.

With the official pre-event test session for this weekend’s Thruxton race meeting having already taken place last week, Formula Renault UK competitors will head straight into qualifying on Saturday, 25th April, with the round three session getting underway at 09.00 and the round four session taking place at 14.00. The first of the weekend’s races will then begin at around 17.35.

Round four, which is scheduled to be screened live on ITV4 as part of the station’s coverage of the HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship, is timetabled to commence at 15.20 on Sunday, 26th April. The action can be followed on Freeview channel 28, through cable channel 117 and on digital satellite channel 120.

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