Manor Competition's Dean SmithWith an unbroken run of eight podium finishes from the last four Michelin Formula Renault UK race meetings, including four race wins, Manor Competition heads to Snetterton Circuit in Norfolk next weekend, 1st/2nd August, with Dean Smith aiming to take the outright lead in the championship.

Although just 19 points shy of the top of the table overall, with the category’s ‘drop-score’ ruling taken into account – a Formula Renault UK stipulation which means each driver has to deduct their two lowest finishes of the season from their final total – Smith does have a slim advantage.

Having missed the opening two rounds of the 2009 season though, the 21-year-old knows he has to maintain his stunningly consistent form as he has already effectively used up his two ‘lives’ with a pair of zeros forming part of his tally for not competing in the first event of the year at Brands Hatch.

Team-mate David McDonald has himself enjoyed a good, consistent run of late for the New Ollerton squad and he will be hoping to build on career best finishes of fourth place, achieved during rounds five and seven at Donington Park and Oulton Park respectively, with a podium challenge of his own.

McDonald, who didn’t race during 2008 due to budget restrictions, has certainly proven his ability in the country’s top junior single-seater championship this year with some great performances and will arrive at Snetterton with a good chance of breaking into the coveted top 10 in the driver standings.

Second year Formula Renault UK competitor Thomas Hylkema hasn’t had the most straightforward of campaigns to date but with the second half of the season now well underway, the Dutchman will hope for his most consistent and successful run of 2009 during rounds 13 and 14. The speed is undoubtedly there, as Hylkema showed at Oulton Park in May with a fine seventh position finish.

At just 16-years-of-age, single-seater rookie Alice Powell has produced racecraft and pace season-long which has far belied her lack of experience. With two top 10 finishes under her belt already, she’ll be aiming for more at Snetterton and especially so after producing top form in official testing at the Norfolk track recently where she was inside the top 10 on both days.

Pre-event practice for the Snetterton race meeting will take place next Friday, 31st July, with qualifying for rounds 13 and 14 of the season following at 09.10 and 14.40 on Saturday, 1st August. Both races will be held on Sunday, 2nd August, with the first beginning at 09.50 and the second, which will be screened live on ITV4, starting at 15.45.

Henry Surtees: 1991-2009
Along with so many people in motorsport, Manor Competition has been greatly affected by the tragic passing of 18-year-old racing driver Henry Surtees following an accident during a Formula 2 Championship race at Brands Hatch in Kent on Sunday, 19th July.

Henry competed with Tony and Sarah Shaw’s team in Formula Renault UK in 2008 and progressed well during the year before claiming his maiden podium finish at Silverstone National Circuit during the 18th round with a stunning drive from 15th on the grid in very tricky, wet conditions.

Remaining with the team for the four-race Winter Championship, Henry achieved his first Formula Renault UK pole position during qualifying for the opening round and went on to claim a memorable lights-to-flag victory. The following weekend, he secured two further podiums to come within just three points of winning the title. This year, of course, he graduated to the revived Formula 2 series.

“Following the tragic passing of Henry after the accident in Formula 2 last weekend, everyone at Manor Competition is approaching our next event with very mixed emotions”, commented Tony Shaw, “We were privileged to know Henry and thoroughly enjoyed our time with him and his father John when they were part of the team in Formula Renault last year.

“On behalf of everyone at Manor Competition, we want to take this opportunity to express our sincerest condolences to the entire Surtees family and we hope they are able to find strength together at such an awful time. Henry was a very talented young racing driver with huge potential but more than that, he was a terrific human being. His loss is felt right across the motorsport world.”

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.