SMITH ENDURES MISERY AFTER LIKELY WIN IS SNATCHED FROM GRASP * Yorkshireman achieves his first-ever American Le Mans Series pole-position * Mechanical issue in closing stages costs Smith possible outright race win Yorkshireman Guy Smith ...
SMITH ENDURES MISERY AFTER LIKELY WIN IS SNATCHED FROM GRASP
* Yorkshireman achieves his first-ever American Le Mans Series pole-position
* Mechanical issue in closing stages costs Smith possible outright race win
Yorkshireman Guy Smith suffered misery in the third round of the American Le Mans Series at the Mazda Raceway in California on Saturday evening (22 May).
The 35-year-old from Beverley, sharing his Dyson Racing Lola Coupe Mazda with regular co-driver Chris Dyson plus Briton Andy Meyrick in the six-hour race, had a likely victory snatched away.
Smith, who set a new lap record, battled for the lead with former Dyson Racing team-mate Marino Franchitti for the final two hours only for Guy's Mazda-powered Lola to coast to a halt with just 24 minutes remaining after a mechanical problem.
"I pitted from the lead with 52mins in the race to run, taking on fuel and also new Dunlop tyres," reflected Guy. "Marino [Franchitti] leap-frogged me in to the lead when he didn't take on new tyres at his last stop seven minutes later.
"I was just 25secs behind him and catching when I coasted to a standstill. I know that I would have got past for the win -- Marino saying afterwards that he 'was definitely hanging on' in the closing stages due to his poor grip level and I would have of course had much fresher tyres."
The only consolation for the bitter disappointment was that the ARCO/Castrol sponsored Lola was classified as "finishing" 15th overall, third in class, in the 35-car field to earn Smith valuable championship points in the nine-race series. Guy remains third in the points standings.
The Smith/Dyson/Meyrick Lola had earlier recovered after Meyrick, who had just taken the lead, spun as he prepared to restart after a Safety Car period and collided with another car. The Dyson team made rapid repairs, losing just one lap, which it then caught back up thanks to some wise strategy during safety cars.
The previous day Smith had achieved his first-ever ALMS pole after five years of contesting the North American sportscar series. It also marked Dyson Racing's first "outright" pole since 2006, the first for Dunlop, and the first ever time an isobutanol-fuelled car had claimed the overall quickest time in qualifying.
"The car was great all weekend and we were fast in every session. In qualifying I had a lot of traffic on my early laps and struggled to find a clear lap but once I found a break I was able to push really hard a get the pole by over half a second.
"I was determined to win my first ever ALMS pole and it was especially pleasing to do it driving a Mazda engined car at the Mazda Laguna Raceway!" concluded Guy whose last "pole" was also at Laguna for an Indy Lights race in 1999.
Before contesting the next round of the American Le Mans Series in Salt Lake City (11 July), Smith competes in the Le Mans 24 Hours next month (12-13 June) for Anglo-Swiss team Rebellion Racing driving a Lola Coupe.
-source: guy smith