Smith Awarded American Sportscar Championship Silverware In Atlanta
· Yorkshireman brings curtain down on successful 2011 ALMS season
· Beverley man now looks ahead to “relaxing” historic rallies in UK
Beverley’s Guy Smith collected the silverware for winning the 2011 American Le Mans Series title in Atlanta, Georgia, this evening (SUN).
The Yorkshireman and his regular American co-driver Chris Dyson were awarded the ALMS championship spoils at a lavish ceremony at the Chateau Elan.
Seven top-two race results in the nine-race North American endurance sportscar series earned 2003 Le Mans 24 Hour race winner Smith his first ALMS title – a series he has contested regularly since 2006 – claiming the “crown” in the penultimate race last month.
“This was a season you work hard for and dream of as a driver,” said Smith. “It has been a fantastic year. The Sebring race in March was the key. Coming away from there with points gave us a good foundation.
“All credit to Mazda and AER for an engine that gave us fantastic reliability as well as great power. Every weekend we qualified on the pole or front row and were strong in the races every weekend.
“Lime Rock was a great race to win with it being the team’s ‘home’ race circuit. For me personally, I think Road America was one of my best drives. Even though we did not win, it was the closest finish in ALMS history. It has been a championship with a lot of highs.”
In the ninth and concluding race yesterday (1 Oct), Smith and Dyson plus Jay Cochran brought their G-OIL/ModSpace/Construct Corps Lola-Coupe home 17th – but the second highest-placed car of the ALMS regulars – in the 1,000-mile Petit Le Mans race which attracted a number of additional European-based “factory” teams.
The annual race staged at Road Atlanta saw the Smith/Dyson/Cochran Lola starting from 12th place on the capacity 53-car grid – the third fastest ALMS car.
Dyson began the race from the pit-lane after a late engine change but went from 41st to seventh. Smith lay an impressive fifth overall before dropping to 24th when a brake line was cut by debris during a mammoth, energy-sapping 3½ hour driving stint for the Yorkshireman which saw him hand over to Cochran in ninth place overall and first in the ALMS “class”.
Dyson got back in with a little over an hour left but had to retire the British-built Lola 20mins from the finish after contact with another car damaged the oil cooler although they were still classified 17th.
Smith remarked: “It was one of the best long distance cars we have had. The performance was fantastic: the Mazda engine, the Dunlop tyres and Lola chassis were perfect.”
In addition to Smith and Dyson winning the 2011 ALMS Drivers Championship, Dyson Racing won the Team Championship, Mazda the Manufacturers Championship and Dunlop the tyre title, Dyson Racing having also won the Michelin Green X Challenge in yesterday’s race.
Smith contests the Cambrian Rally next Saturday (8 Oct) set in the challenging famous Welsh forests of Clocaenog, Penmachno and Alwen. Guy will rally a new Ford Escort Mk1 and then will contest the Malton Forest Rally (6 Nov) and the Roger Albert Clark (2-5 December).