Smith Remains Ahead In American Le Mans Series Title Race Despite Margin Being Cut For Second Consecutive Race
Guy Smith’s American Le Mans Series lead was cut for a second consecutive race when the Yorkshireman finished second in the latest race at Mid-Ohio yesterday (6 Aug).
Up until mid-distance in the scheduled 165-minute race, Smith had dominated proceedings in an attempt to score a second consecutive victory at Mid-Ohio having won the corresponding race 12 months ago.
Beverley-born Guy had set the fastest time in practice sessions on Thursday and Friday around the 2.4-mile, 15-turn course near Lexington before claiming pole-position on the 33-car grid for the second time this season.
Guy then set the quickest time in the final warm-up on raceday in the #16 G-OIL ModSpace Construct Corps Lola Mazda he shares with American co-driver Chris Dyson and led the race from the green light, withstanding intense pressure from championship rival Lucas Luhr before both cars made their first scheduled pit-stops for fuel and tyres on 49mins.
But a Safety Car period after 71mins cancelled out Smith’s six-seconds advantage and Luhr snatched the lead at the re-start 17mins later, the German extending his lead to almost 20secs before both cars pitted for driver changes, fuel and tyres after 1hr 50mins.
“I had a good battle with Lucas (Luhr) in the first part of the race,” said Smith. “It was hard fought. I was able to open up a gap and then he would close up as we hit traffic. The tyres got a lot of pick-up during the first yellow and Lucas was able to slip by on the restart. I couldn’t get the pressures up in the tyres again after the re-start which allowed Lucas to get away from me. That was a shame because I’d driven out of my skin to stay ahead.”
Dyson took over from Smith and resumed 12secs behind Klaus Graf, who had taken over from Luhr, but a rain shower obliged the entire field to pit for wet “treaded” tyres moments later.
Dyson survived a spin on the treacherously slippery track, organisers ultimately bringing the race to a premature end as the rain intensified with the American 69.720secs behind Graf after three more Safety Car periods in the closing stages.
Guy added: “The only thing that is certain is that Chris and I will need to be on top of our game in the remaining races so that we’re in a position to close out the title in the series finale in October.”
The championship resumes at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, on 20 August, with Smith and Dyson starting the four-hour race 23pts ahead of Luhr/Graf.