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Penultimate lap contact leads to Spa-Francorchamps heartbreak for Smith

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Penultimate lap contact leads to Spa-Francorchamps heartbreak for Smith

PRESS RELEASE

McLaren Driver Development Programme driver Josh Smith and team-mate James Dorlin were once again dealt a blow of bad luck at Spa-Francorchamps, after penultimate lap contact took them out of the race whilst leading the GT4 class.

Starting from fourth place on the grid in the #4 Tolman Motorsport McLaren 570S GT4, Dorlin made a superb getaway, and before the field had made it to Eau Rouge, was already leading the class.

Throughout the race the #4 McLaren lead a total of 41 laps, the only break in that was when the pitstops came for driver swap, briefly dropping them out of the top spot for three laps.

At the end of the penultimate lap it was looking good for Tolman Motorsport and Smith, who had done a solid job of defending throughout his stint.

Unfortunately, lady luck was once again not on their side, as contact with a fellow GT4 competitor through the Bus Stop chicane caused damage to the radiator of the McLaren, Smith forced to retire from the race just after the hairpin on the last lap.

While Smith was unable to finish the last lap, the #4 McLaren was classified twentieth overall, and sixth in class.

The British GT championship heads to Brands Hatch for the next round on the weekend of the 3-4 August.

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#4 Tolman Motorsport McLaren 570S GT4 - Josh Smith quotes

"The experience of Spa was brilliant, I loved every second there as it is such an amazing track, it’s definitely my favourite circuit. I feel like this was reflected in my driving too, as we always had a lot of pace throughout the weekend, I just can’t wait to have the opportunity hopefully to go back there and race again.

"We put endless amounts of preparation in before an event, physically training and on simulators; The simulators help massively as you can try different lines and gears for different corners. Therefore, when I get to the track, Iknow exactly what I need to do and how I am going to do it. It just massively shortens the learning process.

"Heading into the race we were expecting to be second or first by the end of the first lap; I have every faith in James [Dorlin], he’s a quick lad who knows what he’s doing. So, I did expect to be in a strong position by the end of Lap 1, but I was surprised that he managed to do it all round Turn 1!

"Obviously, it was a disappointment to retire from the race on the last lap, especially after leading it from the start, but that’s racing!

"I’m now looking ahead to Brands Hatch, my expectations are always the same for every event, whether I know the track well or not, we will regroup and head into the weekend with a fresh outlook.

"I’m always aiming for the win, or at least finish on the podium, at the end of the day I am professional driver in the making and need to perform like one at every track regardless to my knowledge of the circuit."

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Josh Smith dominates GT4 Class until taken out of race

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Josh Smith dominates GT4 Class until taken out of race

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Frustration continued for McLaren Driver Development Programme driver Josh Smith and team-mate James Dorlin at the Donington Park round of the British GT when the McLaren 570S GT4 was taken out of the race whilst leading the class.

After putting the Tolman Motorsport car on the front row of the GT4 grid, Smith took control of the race with a move into Redgate to take the lead.

Over the next 45 minutes, the 20-year-old built up a comfortable gap at the front of the class, showing promising pace and setting things up for a strong finish.

Unfortunately, before he had chance to hand the car over to team-mate Dorlin the race was over; A GT3 class car collided with the McLaren through the Esses towards the end of the stint, putting the car out of the race with a broken front-left suspension.

After another disappointing non-finish Smith and Dorlin head into the next round of the championship in eighth place, while the Tolman Motorsport team retain third in the Teams' championship.

The championship heads across to Belgium for the next round as the competitors take on the iconic Spa-Francorchamps on the weekend of 20/21 July.

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The weekend was really strong on everyone’s part. The team as a whole and James and I delivered throughout the whole event.

This was proven from the word go as we were on the pace straight away in Free Practice 1, this just spring boarded us into a solid qualifying and then proceeded to be dominant in the race.

Obviously a very frustrating end to another very strong and dominant performance that was looking like we were going to take our maiden victory.

However this just proves to us as a team and myself that even though we didn’t get the results, what we are doing is obviously working.

So it just motivates me more to keep pushing. At the end of the day or luck will change and we will get the results we deserve.

I intend to prepare even better for Spa as I haven’t had much track time round there. So the preparation before hand is going to be key.

I am so exited to get my teeth sunk into the race weekend as it is so iconic and just cant believe I have been given the opportunity to race round there.

I’m extremely exited and eager to try and extract the most from the car.
— Josh Smith

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Late heartbreak denies Josh Smith maiden British GT victory

Late heartbreak denies Josh Smith maiden British GT victory

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After a positive weekend at the Silverstone 500 Josh Smith was denied victory in the British GT Championship GT4 class after the Tolman Motorsport McLaren 570S developed a late mechanical issue, forcing them to retire from the race.

Teaming up again with fellow McLaren Driver Development Programme driver James Dorlin, the pair put in a strong qualifying performance to start the race from fourth on the grid, setting the stage for a promising race.

Dorlin took the race start to charge through the grid to hand over the car to Smith in the lead of the class in the opening stint.

Smith drove a strong stint to maintain the lead before handing the car back over to Dorlin an hour later.

As the class lead extended a mechanical issue struck, forcing the pair to retire the car from the race, missing out on the opportunity to take their maiden victory.

“We had a really strong qualifying, lining up in fourth place, my hopes for the race were to really push for the win or at a minimum take another podium finish.

“We had a great start to the race, and James [Dorlin] handed the car over to me in the lead; I had a good clean stint holding position at the front.

“It was so disappointing to have to retire the car when the job was pretty much done with a 15 second lead, but all we could do was pull the positives from the weekend.

“I was really happy with the pace that we demonstrated. We have shown so much promise this year and had some strong results, but I think it’s just a matter of time until our luck changes and we get the results that we deserve.

“My thoughts ahead of Donnington are just to approach it the same as I did to Silverstone as we were so strong there, I feel that I don’t need to change anything.

“Before the race weekend I will go about my normal training regime which consists of training at iZone Driver Performance on the simulators and physical pressure training to make sure I am in peak performance for the weekend.”

The championship resumes this weekend (22/23 June) at Donington Park.

Promising pace rewards Josh Smith with second podium finish

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Promising pace rewards Josh Smith with second podium finish

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Cumbria-based Josh Smith secured his second podium finish of the 2019 British GT season as he raced to second place in the opening race of the weekend at Snetterton with teammate James Dorlin.

The McLaren Driver Development Programme pairing started the race from fifth place as Smith worked his way up to third place, before handing the Tolman Motorsport 570S GT4 over to Dorlin.

Dorlin fought hard to move up to second place by the time the chequered flag came out, giving the #4 car its second podium finish in three races.

In a similar story to the opening race weekend of the championship, the second race of the weekend saw frustration after a strong drive saw Dorlin rise through the ranks from twentieth place on the grid up to ninth place.

With Smith in the driving seat, the charge to the front continued as the 19-year-old moved up to fourth place.

Unfortunately, the #4 McLaren would be hit with a stop/go penalty, after a slow getaway from their pit stop was judged by race stewards to have blocked the GT3 car that was behind them.

The penalty dropped the duo down to ninth place and out of contention for the podium finish. Despite the result, there was strong pace throughout the weekend and another good points haul to place the duo just ten points behind the British GT Silver GT4 Class championship leaders.

The championship resumes in two weeks time at Silverstone as competitors take on the Grand Prix circuit on 8/9 June.

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Josh Smith - British GT - Snetterton - Quotes 

"Race weekends never get any easier, if anything it gets harder as everyone is constantly raising the bar

"It was easier in that I knew what to expect from the weekend and the car as I have already had my first experience of a race weekend in GT racing.


"I was over the moon to be back on the podium, with the pace in testing, and qualifying in fifth, it was really motivating as it showed we had good pace in the race.

"It's only a short period until Silverstone, but preparation has already begun to make sure any small issues have been ironed out.

"I'm looking forward to the next race weekend and getting to drive the McLaren 570S GT4 around the Grand Prix circuit. I'm hoping for another strong weekend and to be in the hunt for the podium again."

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Josh Smith on the podium in first GT race

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Josh Smith on the podium in first GT race

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In his first outing since winning the 2018 Formula Ford Festival, Josh Smith narrowly missed out on victory on his debut in the 2019 British GT Championship opening race at Oulton Park.

The 19-year-old was racing with Tolman Motorsport in his first race since joining the McLaren Automotive Driver Development Programme, driving the McLaren 570S GT4 alongside James Dorlin.

A day of running through setups and system checks greeted the team on Easter Friday testing before further practice and qualifying on Saturday saw the duo qualify ninth in class.

Dorlin started the first race of the weekend on Easter Monday, making a lightning start to take the #4 McLaren into the class lead in the opening stages of the race.

After being pushed wide, Dorlin slid back down to seventh place before handing over to Smith for the second half of the race which saw him exit the pitlane side-by-side with the class-leading HHC Motorsport McLaren.

Smith would hold on to the end of the race to secure a podium finish on his race debut, taking the chequered flag in second place in the GT4 class.

“A podium result makes this a great start to the 2019 season, especially given that we started ninth. The McLaren 570S GT4 felt incredible throughout both races and, with more time in the car, things can only get better,”  said Smith.


The podium we achieved with James (Dorlin) and Josh (Smith) was magnificent and I’m so pleased that they did it on their British GT debut. However, The pace is obviously there and the boys are learning an awful lot every time they get in the cars. Race two didn’t go to plan at all, but that’s motorsport. On the whole, we started with a good finish, fought for more big results, possessed winning pace and the team gelled incredibly well.”
— Tolman Motorsport Team Principal, Christopher Tolman

Josh Smith - British GT - Oulton Park - Quotes 

What are your first impressions of racing in British GT?

"My first impressions of British GT is really positive! Really enjoyed the whole weekend and the paddock carries a good atmosphere. There is really strong competition throughout the field but I am 100% certain that me and my teammate James can get some really good results this season and challenge for the title."

Do you approach the race in a different way when you are sharing a car with someone as to if you were racing on your own?

"No, I do not change my approach sharing the car with James. I still keep the same intensity and put my self under the same amount of pressure to perform. However, I do bare the thought in mind that I have got to look after the car as James needs as good a car as possible as his result and performance directly affects mine.

What were your expectations heading into the race and did you meet them / exceed them?

"My expectation was to finish in the top 5, however I was aiming for two podiums. So when I finished second in race one and only a very small margin off the win it massively exceeded my expectations! We were also on for another podium in race two until we had a drive-through penalty that was a massive disappointment, because we could have had two unreal results for our first event."

Was there a particular part of the races that you enjoyed?

"I really enjoyed taking the start in race 2 and my whole stint as there was some really close racing. I was able to really push the car on the better tyres and use my race craft to do some good overtaking!"

What did you learn this weekend that you can carry forward for the rest of the year?

"I learnt that they are very long races and the situation can change very quickly. So you have to be patient an look after the car to and make sure you keep out of trouble as other drivers will come into trouble and make mistakes so it is important to be there to pick up the pieces."

PRESS ENQUIRIES - pr@blackeaglemedia.co.uk

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