Smith Remains Well Placed In Title Race After Third Consecutive Runner-up Finish
Yorkshireman less than one second away from second win of the year in closest overall finish in ALMS history
Guy Smith claimed an ultra-close second position in the latest round of the American Le Mans Series at the Road America track in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, on Saturday (20 Aug).
Beverley’s Smith and American co-driver Chris Dyson brought their G-OIL/ModSpace/Construct Corps Lola-Coupe home a mere 0.112secs behind the winners in a four-hour race staged on the 4.048-mile, 14-turn track – the longest circuit on this year’s ALMS calendar.
Smith, who has raced at Road America every year since 2006, now has an 18-point lead in the championship standings with just three races remaining.
“That was a crazy race,” commented Guy. “I was taking big risks but Klaus drove very well but I have to be content with second especially as this track didn’t really suit our car. I can’t remember pushing so hard for the last two hours of a race. The last 20 minutes were the toughest of my career.”
Smith, who celebrated his sixth wedding anniversary on raceday, turned the fastest lap time on Thursday but it was Dyson, despite feeling unwell, who started from the second row of the 36-car grid having set the third quickest time in qualifying on Friday.
Dyson handed over the Lola-Mazda to Smith with 86mins gone in third place under full course caution but Guy slipped ahead of the “sister” Dyson Lola (Steven Kane/Humaid Al Masaood) when the race re-started to trail main title rivals Lucas Luhr/Klaus Graf (Lola) by 11.5secs.
At mid-distance, Smith trailed Graf by 18.5secs but with 106mins to run, Graf’s lead was cut to just nine seconds when Guy took on fuel only with Graf having fuel and new tyres fitted in a consequently longer stop.
A further two full course cautions brought Graf and Smith nose-to-tail when the race resumed with 39mins remaining with the final pit-stops completed but the Briton, despite setting a series of fastest laps in the closing stages, ultimately had to be content with second place in a grandstand finish after a stunning drive.
Guy added: “The car was awesome at the end. The last set of Dunlop tyres were fantastic. A couple of times Klaus [Graf] got really good breaks in traffic and I’d drop five or six seconds. But I kept charging and caught up again each time. Of course I am a little disappointed because it was so close, but it shows that even after four hours of hard racing, how strong the Mazda is. We’ll just take the remaining races as they come and concentrate on points finishes each time.”
The American Le Mans Series returns to the Atlantic seaboard with the first running of the Baltimore Grand Prix for the two-hour next race on 3 September. The two-mile circuit in downtown Baltimore will run along the city’s inner harbour.