- Smelt has impressed from the outset in testing.
- 20-year-old has no shortage of experience ahead of his single-seater debut.
- GW Motorsport targeting points and podiums.
21 JUNE, 2017 – Sam Smelt will contest the remainder of the 2017 F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford EcoBoost campaign after agreeing terms on a deal to join Gary Ward’s GW Motorsport outfit.
Smelt graduated to cars earlier this season by competing in the Volkswagen Racing Cup and he now has his sights set on single-seater success.
The 20-year-old from Northampton built up an impressive karting CV prior to his tin-top debut, both in the UK and in Europe, most recently finishing seventh overall in the Rotax Max Wintercup in 2016.
“I’ve known Gary since I started karting,” explained Smelt. “He’s been wanting me to drive the British F4 car for a while so it’s great to make that happen and put this deal together.
“The fact that he has a team in British F4 was a key factor in me deciding to join the championship, along with how well the series is organised. The exposure you get from being on the TOCA package, with huge crowds and live television coverage is a big plus too.”
“I have followed Sam throughout his karting career and he’s always impressed me,” said GW Motorsport boss and team owner Gary Ward. “He always seems so at one with the car and very smooth.
“We took him to Snetterton so we could gauge his potential and within 12 laps he was on the pace.
“He absolutely loves driving the car. After the initial test he did with us he took part in the official organised F4 British Championship test at Snetterton and really impressed again.
“He’s got a great future. I think he’s a dark horse. I would like to say let’s do this year and then next year let’s go for the championship because he’s more than capable. This year the aim is for strong point scores and even podiums.”
Ward’s confidence is certainly not misplaced. At the Snetterton official organised test, Smelt wound up sixth fastest over the two days and just over half a second off the quickest time after consistently running inside the top 10 on the timesheet throughout.
It bodes well for his Ford EcoBoost-powered competitive debut with GW Motorsport, as the team is chasing its first top 10 finish having already come very close on several occasions with Jacky Liu.
“The testing at Snetterton went really well which I’m very happy about,” said Smelt. “I put in some good laps. I’m enjoying driving the car and cannot wait to go racing.
“I get on well with Jacky and everyone in the team. Jacky and I have competed in karting so we already know each other which makes things easier.”
“Sam and Jacky will be able to push and help each other,” added Ward. “He gets on well with everyone in the team and it’s going to be great to have a second car running so we can double the amount of data we have to work with.”
Smelt’s debut in the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford EcoBoost will take place after the summer break at Snetterton on 29 July and he has refrained from setting any targets for his maiden weekend.
“I haven’t set myself any particular targets for the first few races,” he said. “I hope to be up towards the front by the end of the season. I didn’t have any expectations before my first test days and I did really well. We’ve got good speed and now we just need to see how we do in the races.”