'ROOKIE' SMITH EAGER IN LE MANS RETURN Guy Smith is one of many "rookies" competing this week at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Such a title seems strange for someone who is a former overall winner in the world's greatest sports car race. Yet that...
'ROOKIE' SMITH EAGER IN LE MANS RETURN
Guy Smith is one of many "rookies" competing this week at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Such a title seems strange for someone who is a former overall winner in the world's greatest sports car race. Yet that is the case for any driver who has not competed at Le Mans in three years.
But that means very little to Smith, who competes for Dyson Racing in the American Le Mans Series. This week he is driving for Quifel-ASM and its AER- powered Lola in LMP2, five years after winning for Bentley in 2003. The following year he finished second in an Audi R8, just 43 seconds behind the winning Audi.
"Le Mans is such a difficult race," Smith said. "You always try to prepare as best you can physically and mentally. It can throw up so many different challenges that you don't know what's around the corner."
After Wednesday's first qualifying session, the ASM Lola sat sixth in P2, 7.753 seconds behind Sascha Maassen's class record time in the Team Essex Porsche RS Spyder. But Smith knows all too well that qualifying means even less at Le Mans than it does in a standard American Le Mans Series race. So conditioning and experience comes more into play.
"I've been doing three long-distance runs of 15 miles each week and increased my weight program, too," he explained. "Le Mans is not so physical. It's such a fast circuit and on the long straights you get a chance to rest. It's just mentally draining. It's a long week with the Test Day, PR activities and mentally very, very tiring. Come Sunday, you just feel drained. But hopefully if you get a good result it makes it all worthwhile.
"Sebring historically has always been a good race to prepare from both a driver's point of view and team's point of view," he said. "Most of the races we have here (in the American Le Mans Series) are very challenging and certainly physical so they are great ways to prepare for Le Mans."