Mixed Weekend For Smith


Formula 3 hopeful Dean Smith had a mixed return to single-seater action at Thruxton Circuit in Hampshire over the weekend, 25th/26th April, after signing a late deal with Manor Competition to contest the third and fourth rounds of the Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship.

The 21-year-old Wolverhampton ace, who was Formula Renault UK Vice-Champion two seasons ago, took the decision to return to the high-profile junior single-seater series after careful consideration with sponsors as he bids to continue climbing the ladder towards Formula One.

Although having seriously impressed in an excellent sportscar debut three weeks ago at Brands Hatch in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB Championship, Dean’s desire remains with open-wheel racing and so he is now set to complete the year in Formula Renault UK.

Although disappointed to come away with a best result of ninth position this weekend during the second Formula Renault UK encounter on Sunday afternoon, Dean was phlegmatic about his first race meeting back in single-seaters and is confident he will soon be back where he belongs at the sharp end of the grid and atop the championship podium.

“We didn’t expect to achieve anything special this weekend, it was all about getting back into a Formula Renault and getting reacclimatised after having raced the Porsche at Brands Hatch during the first meeting of the season”, said the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) Rising Star.

“We need to make some improvements and changes but the key thing is that we have a two-day test coming up at Croft in about 10 days so we can hopefully get plenty of work done there to make sure we’re in good shape for the next rounds at Donington.”

Having missed the official pre-event test at Thruxton a couple of weeks ago, Dean was still quietly confident of a good run this weekend during rounds three and four but things went awry in round three qualifying when a gamble on slick tyres on a drying track didn’t quite pay off.

Leaving him a very uncharacteristic 22nd on the grid, he still fought through in Saturday afternoon’s race to take a creditable 13th place finish but did struggle with some brake issues which he hoped to be able to rectify before the second encounter.

Qualifying an improved seventh on the grid for round four, just four 10ths of a second away from pole position, the West Midlands racer had an action-packed race and eventually finished in ninth place after a tight see-saw battle in the midfield involving half a dozen competitors.

Taking 20 points in total from his first weekend back in the championship, Dean now has 10 days to wait until the official two-day Formula Renault UK test at Croft, nard Darlington in North Yorkshire.

He added: “We would have liked to have managed a couple of top sixes this weekend but it wasn’t to be unfortunately. Things went wrong in qualifying with the tyre call which was just one of those things really. Starting so far down the order was always going to be a big challenge but we came through pretty close to the top 10 in the end.

“I’m disappointed with this first weekend back as I know what we’re capable of but I’m sure when we get the two full days of testing at Croft to work on the set-up and a few changes, we’ll be in much better shape at Donington for rounds five and six.”

Dean will be back on track in his Manor Competition Formula Renault UK car at Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire on Wednesday, 6th May, and Thursday, 7th May. Rounds five and six of the 2009 season will follow a week later at Donington Park’s National Circuit over the weekend 16th/17th May.

Provisional 2009 Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship Standings (after Rd4):1st Dean Stoneman, 96pts; 2nd James Calado, 84pts; 17th Dean Smith, 20pts

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