Dean SmithManor Competition celebrated more podium success over the weekend, 4th/5th July, at Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit when Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship front-runner Dean Smith secured the team’s seventh and eighth rostrum results of the season in rounds 11 and 12.

The Nottinghamshire squad, based in New Ollerton, has consolidated third place in the entrant standings while in the chase for the driver’s title, 21-year-old Smith is now second on overall points scored and actually leads the way when the ‘double drop-score’ ruling is taken into account – all drivers having to subtract their two lowest results come the end of the season.

Formula Renault UK rookie David McDonald also impressed at the Northamptonshire venue in-front of an incredible two-day crowd of 135,000 spectators with an eighth place finish in the opening race of the weekend and ninth position in race two.

At the beginning of round 11 on Sunday morning, 5th July, Smith made an electric start from fifth on the grid to scorch into third place on the run through Copse while McDonald gained three places on the opening lap to move into the top 10.

Running in close quarters with race leader, and pole-sitter, Josh Scott and second placed James Calado, there was very little to choose between the top three and positions remained static all the way to the chequered flag with less than a second splitting the trio of podium finishers.

On lap four, McDonald grabbed ninth place at the expense of Matias Laine and then moved ahead of Fredrik Blomstedt on the ninth lap to cap a good drive with a soild eighth place, his fifth top eight result of the year.

Team-mate Thomas Hylkema held ninth place from the start up to lap eight where he slipped behind Jesse Krohn. Battling back into 12th position on lap 12, he was then passed by Harry Tincknell and remained in 13th place to the finish.

For Alice Powell, round 11 was the definite weekend highlight as she climbed from 23rd on the grid into an 18th place points finish. Dropping a position on lap one, the 16-year-old fought back well and after moving into the top 20 on the fourth tour, she took 18th place on lap eight.

In round 12, the Ginetta Junior graduate’s participation unfortunately ceased on the opening lap after an incident involving Croatian driver Sasha Radola at Abbey. Radola’s car was tagged from behind and the resulting spin pitched him into Powell’s car, leading to broken rear suspension.

At the front, Smith started in fourth place and was up into third but a huge amount of dust and dirt at Copse caused him to get out of shape. Slipping to fifth place, he soon got back ahead of Dean Stoneman and after fending off his attentions, Smith proceeded to challenge Jordan Oakes.

Held-up by Oakes for a number of laps, as soon as he managed to get by on the seventh tour he immediately pulled clear and was ultra-fast. Consistently the quickest driver on track, the West Midlander produced fastest lap pace as he reeled in the top two and even though he was held up badly early on, Smith still finished a mere two seconds shy of second position.

McDonald did slip to 13th place on lap one of race two but he fought back very well indeed and secured ninth spot on the 10th tour after a good battle with Laine and Harry Tincknell. In the thick of the action throughout, the Surrey driver is now just nine points shy of the championship top 10.

Luckless Hylkema wasn’t able to get away from the grid after his clutch overheated and he stalled but after his car had been pushed back to the pits by track marshals, he eventually managed to join-in albeit a lap down on the leaders after a bump-start by the Manor mechanics. In the end, he circulated with top 10 pace – proof of what might have been – and finished in 23rd place.

Looking back on the weekend’s action, team co-owner Sarah Shaw said: “It was great to be on the podium again in both races, in the second one in particular Dean had the pace to win had he not been held up so much early on. David put in two excellent performances as well to make some inroads on the people ahead of him in the championship.

“It was a bit of a mixed weekend on the whole I suppose as while Dean and David had some success, Alice and Thomas both had to contend with misfortune – Alice’s lap one exit from the second race and Thomas unable to get off the grid. Even so, we showed some good pace this weekend and in terms of the championship, everything’s looking ok.”

Snetterton Circuit in Norfolk will host rounds 13 and 14 of the Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship four weeks from now over the weekend 1st/2nd August.

2009 Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship Standings (after Rd12):
2nd Dean Smith, 260pts; 11th David McDonald, 127pts; 14th Thomas Hylkema, 78pts; 20th Alice Powell, 52pts

2009 Michelin Formula Renault UK ‘Graduate Cup’ Standings (after Rd12):
7th Alice Powell, 52pts

2009 Michelin Formula Renault UK Team Standings (after Rd12):
3rd Manor Competition, 417pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.