Guy Smith PR
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.