SMITH SETS OUT ON SEBRING MISSION: POINTS MEANS “PRIZES”Yorkshireman focusing on the “bigger picture” in Florida sunshine·
Smith to drive for REBELLION Racing at Le Mans 24 Hours in June
Guy Smith embarks on his seventh consecutive American Le Mans Series campaign with Dyson Racing in the Sebring 12 Hours aiming for a solid point-scoring finish to get his championship title aspirations off to a flying start next Saturday (19 March).
The 36-year-old from Beverley drives a G-OIL sponsored Lola Mazda Coupé with additional support from ModSpace and Construct Corps in the annual Florida race, the longest event on the nine-race ALMS calendar.
Smith will concentrate on his own race and “ignore” the pace of the faster diesel-engined sports-prototypes of Audi and Peugeot.
“I’m running the full ALMS championship with Dyson while the ‘factory’ Audi and Peugeot teams will only do this race and one other in the States so my priority is to run at our own pace and score some decent points towards our title quest,” commented Guy.
“Despite regulation changes to bring the performance of the diesel powered cars and the petrol-engined sportscars, like the one that I drive, closer so that we all compete on a level playing field, they [Audi and Peugeot] will still have a massive advantage.”
Smith, who tested at the 3.7 mile, 17-corner Sebring International Raceway last month, shares the British-built Lola-Mazda Coupé with regular co-driver Chris Dyson plus American Jay Cochran in a race expected to run a distance of almost 1,400 miles.
Guy added: “The Lola is essentially the same as last year but the Mazda engine runs to the new LM P1 class restrictor and regulations which reduces our power.
“The car felt comfortable in the test last month. The team has done a good job with the chassis to accompany the extra weight which we also have to carry while engine tuners AER have worked hard over the winter with the Mazda engine.”
The 59th Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring will be the first race of the 2011 American Le Mans Series season and the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup. A near 59-car grid is expected to start the race scheduled for a 2.30pm start (UK time).
Before heading to Florida on Sunday (13 Mar), 2003 Le Mans 24 Hours race winner Smith tests at the Paul Ricard track in Southern France having signed to drive for REBELLION Racing for a second consecutive year in the twice-around-the-clock French marathon.
Smith drives a Lola Coupé Toyota in this weekend’s two-day test in preparation for this year’s Le Mans race staged over 11-12 June.
"I am thrilled at the prospect of returning to Le Mans with REBELLION Racing, it's one of the most ambitious teams I have had the pleasure to work with and I think the addition of the Toyota engine to the Lola coupe proves that they are constantly striving to improve their package,” confirmed Smith.
“All the guys in the team made me feel very welcome when I joined them last year and it was a very easy integration with them and also it was a real pleasure working with my co-drivers Andrea [Belicchi] and Jean-Christophe [Boullion].
“We have unfinished business at Le Mans and I think this year we could really be a thorn in the side of the ‘factory’ teams. It's always a challenge at Le Mans but one I am really looking forward to."
-source: guy smith PR