GP3 SeriesOpen Wheel

Dean Smith Pleased With First Podium Of 2011

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Dean Smith scored his first podium of the 2011 GP3 Series season at Barcelona in the second race of the weekend.

It was a promising start to the weekend for the Wolverhampton racer, ending the first practice session on Friday in sixth place. A brake issue kept him out of the second session.

Smith ended the qualifying session on Saturday morning in ninth place, though he would be promoted to eighth on the grid after Marlon Stockinger was excluded.

Smith made a good start to the first race to move up to seventh at the first corner. From there he put pressure on championship leader Nigel Melker but did not get close enough to pass him.

Seventh place gave the 23-year-old Addax driver a front row start for the Sunday morning race, but too much wheelspin off the line allowed Melker to take him for second on the run down to the first corner.

In the final third of the race Smith's third place came under pressure from Andrea Caldarelli but he defended his position well to score his first podium of the year and the second of his GP3 career.

He now sits ninth in the drivers' standings after two rounds, tied on points with the two drivers ahead of him in the classification. His place on the 2011 grid was only confirmed a couple of days before the opening round in Turkey.

“It's fantastic to be back on the podium,” said Smith. “The team has done a great job this weekend, we've learnt a lot about the tyre compound so if I'm able to do the next round in Valencia I'm sure we'll be really strong in qualifying and the races. I want to say a huge thank you to Barwa and all of the other sponsors at Addax, I'm so grateful for the opportunity they've given me.

“The start to race two was tricky, it was quite cool and there was a shadow over the front of the grid so as soon as I let the clutch out we had a loads of wheelspin. We haven't had the traction out of the last corner this weekend, that's been our main problem and it's how Caldarelli managed to get close to me into turn one a couple of laps from the end. It was ok though.

“It's impossible to overtake at a track like Barcelona when you're all running such similar pace. We were able to do good lap times but every time I pushed harder we lost the grip so I decided to look after third place. I'm really happy to have given the guys at Addax their first GP3 podium of 2011.”

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