Reigning Formula Renault UK Champion Dean Smith proved his front running status in the GP3 series after a strong two day at Barcelona, Spain.
Twenty two year old Smith, backed by the Racing Steps Foundation organisation and Tomax was in his second outing in the Carlin prepared car and delivered an extremely impressive account as he posted a best time which was with two tenths of a second of the session's best time, Smith setting a 1:37.918.
His preparations were hindered by a major electrical fault, the Wolverhampton based racer was unfazed by the lack of track time open to him as he managed to finish the day sixth overall in the combined times.
Having proved his genuine ability to run at the front of the thirty car GP3 field, the McLaren Autosport BRDC winner has returned to the UK ahead of the first event alongside the FIA Formula One World Championship on the 8/9 May.
Speaking about the test, Smith said: “Considering the amount of time we lost with the electrical problem, I'm really pleased with our pace and I'm sure we'll be at the sharp end of things when the championship gets underway, Carlin did a fantastic job to get to the bottom of the problem and although we only ran for about the last hour and a half yesterday afternoon, we were really quick.
“I know where we could have gained the extra couple of 10ths of a second we needed to be fastest so that's important. We're definitely moving forward each time we're out in the car, I'm pushing as hard as I can and so is the team. We've all gelled really well and although GP3 is packed with fast drivers and great teams, I'm confident we have what it takes to be consistently strong.”
The opening day of the Barcelona test saw a damp track which gave Smith his first experience of a GP3 car in wet conditions. Smith ended the day as the fastest of the rookies, with the fifth fastest time of the morning, a 1:38.925, which he improved to a 1:38.016, leaving him less than a tenth of a second away from second position.
Practice for the first event of the inaugural GP3 Series event will take place at the Circuit de CataluÃ±a, Spain on the 7 May, with qualifying and the first of two thirty minute races on Saturday 8 May, with round two due to take place on Sunday 9 May, on the morning of the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix.
Photo credit: Alastair Staley/GP3 Media Service