Dean SmithWolverhampton’s Dean Smith is celebrating today, Friday, 9th October, after being named one of the six finalists for the prestigious McLaren Autosport BRDC Award – the biggest prize in UK motorsport.

Off the back of becoming 2009 Formula Renault UK Champion last weekend at Brands Hatch in Kent, the announcement marks the second time 21-year-old Dean has been put forward for the annual accolade which carries with it an incredible prize package of £50,000, full membership of the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) and a test drive in a McLaren-Mercedes Formula One car.

Past winners of the award include current leader of the FIA Formula One World Championship Jenson Button, multiple Grand Prix winner David Coulthard and former F1 racer – and current BBC Radio Five Live commentator – Anthony Davidson.

“It’s fantastic news I’ve been put forward as one of the finalists for the McLaren Autosport BRDC award again, it’s a tremendous honour and caps off an incredible year for us”, said Dean, “When we came back into Formula Renault UK having missed the first two races, it was always going to be a huge challenge to win the title but we always had the confidence and belief we could do it.

“I have to say a huge thank you to Manor Competition for giving me a fantastic car this year, taking seven wins and 15 podiums from 18 race starts tells its own story. We all worked unbelievably hard during the season. To win the championship in style with a race victory and to also be put forward for the McLaren Award truly makes this an amazing year.”

The Black Country racer is unquestionably one of Britain’s premier young talents in single-seater racing and since graduating to cars in 2004, after a stellar career in karting, he has won two of the most prestigious national titles.

Winning a Formula BMW Scholarship to help facilitate a step-up to cars in 2004 at the age of 15, Dean finished third in the ‘Rookie Cup’ before going on to win the main Formula BMW UK title the following year with three race victories, nine podiums in total and two pole positions.

Moving into Formula Renault UK in 2006, he was Vice-Champion of the Graduate Cup class for category newcomers and in 2007 he took three race wins, 14 podiums in total, seven pole positions and eight fastest laps en-route to the overall Vice-Champion’s position. As an acknowledgement of his superb season, Dean was also named a McLaren Autosport BRDC Award finalist for the first time.

Racing on the continent in 2008 in Eurocup Formula Renault, Dean returned to Britain this year but missed the first two rounds of the Formula Renault UK Championship after electing to make his full sportscar racing bow in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB Championship where he impressed with fourth and fifth place finishes on his debut – having previously driven the ‘VIP’ guest car in 2008.

Agreeing a deal with Manor Competition for the remaining 18 races of the 2009 Formula Renault UK season, Dean finished every round he contested and took seven race wins, 15 podiums in total, seven pole positions, six fastest laps and two ‘Driver of the Day’ accolades on his way to a 34-point championship winning margin.

Following a track assessment at Silverstone next month and a fitness test at the Porsche Human Performance Centre, situated at the Northamptonshire venue, the winner of the 2009 McLaren Autosport BRDC Award will be revealed at the Autosport Awards ceremony in London on the evening of Sunday, 6th December.

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.