Tuesday, November 1, 2005

Sean McIntosh – 2005 Season Review

Courtesy Stuart Morrison Public Relations

Vancouver, Canada (November 01, 2005) – Following Sean McIntosh’s stunning debut in European open-wheel competition, collecting the 2004 ‘Graduate Cup’ title for rookie drivers, an outright victory and sixth overall in the final point standings, the young Canadian was heralded as a title-contender from the very start of his 2005 Formula Renault UK Championship sophomore campaign.

Choosing to keep a winning combination in place, Sean raced once again for Team Firstair and the partnership proved to be even more potent second time around. In the closest battle for the Formula Renault UK Championship in fifteen years, Sean took the fight to Britain’s Oliver Jarvis all the way to the final round at Brands Hatch at the start of October.

Jarvis ultimately took the title but Sean’s record of five wins, eight podium finishes, four pole positions and sixteen top-five starts demonstrated the 20-year-old’s increased competitiveness in one of Europe’s toughest open-wheel proving grounds. Comfortably sealing the Vice-Champion position for himself, McIntosh’s haul of five victories was a season-high by a driver and it included a dominating mid-season run of four consecutive trips to the top step of the podium.

His performances throughout the regular 2005 season didn’t go unnoticed! The Vancouver resident now finds himself racing a 520bhp V8-powered Lola-Zytek for Team Canada in the inaugural A1 Grand Prix of Nations. Sean jetted out to Australia this weekend to prepare for the fourth round of the A1 Grand Prix Series but not before he took time out from his schedule to reflect on a successful second term in the Formula Renault UK Championship.

“Nothing really surprised me about this season,” he commented. “You only have to look at how close most of the qualifying sessions were to see the level of competition that exists in Formula Renault. It wasn’t going to be a walk in the park for anyone this year and the fact we succeeded in fighting all the way to the final round is proof.”

In addition Sean also believed his decision to remain with Team Firstair for a second successive season helped his chances of success.

“When you can carry chemistry from one year to the next it’s definitely a good thing. There was always a real family atmosphere within Team Firstair and I felt at home there. There was also a level of trust throughout the team which I felt was very important, especially on the days when things were not going according to plan. Ian Barnwell (Team Owner) has helped me in so many ways since I left Canada. He didn’t just care about me racing with his team; he cared about me personally and helped a great deal as I adjusted to living in England and learning the culture. From the beginning Ian has also been focused on helping me to reach the next level and for that I will be forever grateful to him.”

With a win at Donington Park in the second round, McIntosh then became the first Canadian driver to ever claim a Formula Renault UK Championship pole position, securing the first of three straight poles as the second half of the season commenced at Snetterton in August. His exceptional qualifying record proved to be the backbone of his season.

Sean explained, “Qualifying was something we focused on from the start of pre-season testing. It’s a great feeling when everything goes well and you bang out two or three ‘fliers’ but it’s vital in Formula Renault. Because of the nature of the competition if you want to race at the front you really have to qualify at the front. These cars are so finely balanced that if you get bogged down in the pack it’s extremely difficult to overtake.”

“I won all my races from pole position or from second on the grid,” he continued. “While there’s no doubt that qualifying and consistency are important, there’s nothing more satisfying than being on the top step of the podium. I would rather celebrate my five wins this season, despite not winning the championship, than celebrate winning a title by finishing second in every race.”

“You always want to win races…. that’s the way it should be in racing. I also had some unfortunate rounds, which undoubtedly had an impact on my title-bid, but I was still in the running all the way to the very end on the strength of those victories and my overall consistency.”

“There was no runaway leader this year, which is good for any championship. I feel I both learned and proved what I needed to and I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to compete in such a great championship.”

“The highlight of the season was probably my second win at Knockhill. The whole team had worked really hard on perfecting our set-up and we had the fastest car throughout the weekend. The first race I won despite the heavy rain and relentless pressure from Yelmer Buurman. He made me work hard for the win and he gave me a couple of ‘love taps’ from behind but overall it was good clean racing.”

“The second race was a different ball game although the track conditions remained equally treacherous. I made a great start from second on the grid and I just pulled away from the rest of the field, quickly building up several seconds of an advantage. It was my fourth win in a row and I think it really underlined the potential of the whole team.”

As ever in motorsport, there are the highs and the lows and Sean’s biggest disappointment of the season came in Round 16 at Donington Park, one of his favorite tracks in the UK. “I had to watch Oliver Jarvis win the race from the sidelines,” recalled McIntosh. “I went off at Coppice Corner on the opening lap and had no choice but to remain there and watch as a spectator. I felt like I was there for ages and I was helpless to stop Oliver from picking up a healthy dose of points. It certainly made the championship a little more interesting heading to Silverstone.”

Sean bounced back with another pole position and two more podium finishes at Silverstone and Brands Hatch. In the end Jarvis took the title by a mere 19 points from McIntosh, the duo battling all the way to Round 20.

On two highly-successful seasons in the Formula Renault UK Championship, Sean can spotlight where he’s improved as a driver since debuting in European competition. “I’ve definitely stepped-up my performance in both qualifying and in dealing with the opening laps,” he stated. “Until I started racing here I just wasn’t aware of the intensity of the first laps of a race. In a formula where everything’s the same, those opening laps can make or break your race. You simply can’t afford to lose position because it’s virtually impossible to make it back to the front-end of the fight.”

Since wrapping up the 2005 Formula Renault campaign Sean has turned his attention to his A1 Grand Prix commitments racing for Team Canada. With a podium finish to his credit already, in just the second round, the Canadian stand-out has continued to impress industry observers.

“Formula Renault has really helped prepare me for stepping up to the bigger, more powerful A1GP car,” Sean remarked.

“I’ve learned to really push myself in the races because the level of talent and competition here is also extremely high. It’s definitely my goal to win races for Team Canada and I hope to see out the entire inaugural season driving for them.

Beyond that I’m aiming to climb the Renault development ladder and compete in the World Series by Renault or perhaps even GP2 in 2006. A career in motorsport is my goal and I want to continue proving I can perform at the front at each successive level. I see no reason why I won’t be able to given all that I’ve learned by competing in the Formula Renault UK Championship!”

For more info on Sean’s 2006 plans visit www.seanmcintosh.com or for a schedule of the inaugural A1 Grand Prix season visit www.a1gp.com.

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