Sebring: Guy Smith preview

Guy Smith looks to get his American Le Mans Series campaign off to a flying start by scoring a top LM P2 class result in the Sebring 12 Hours on Saturday (15 Mar). Smith, 33, from Driffield, teams up with American Chris Dyson in a Porsche ...

Guy Smith looks to get his American Le Mans Series campaign off to a flying start by scoring a top LM P2 class result in the Sebring 12 Hours on Saturday (15 Mar).

Smith, 33, from Driffield, teams up with American Chris Dyson in a Porsche Spyder RS in the 12-race ALMS season-opener staged in the Florida sunshine at the historic 3.7-mile, 17-turn Sebring circuit.

"Sebring is definitely the hardest ALMS race and arguably the highlight of the ALMS season as well as it being the first race of the year which makes you pumped up in itself," commented Smith. "There is always an amazing atmosphere and a crowd in excess of 120,000.

"As it's the first race of the season it's important to come away from the race with some points under your belt -- it's a long 12-race series which doesn't end until mid-October. A good result in the opening race would set up the season perfectly but 12 hours around Sebring can throw up a number of unknowns.

"The Sebring race is incredibly tough -- only the Le Mans 24 Hours being more arduous, physically and mentally demanding for a driver plus mechanically challenging for a car. Indeed it's commonly believed that 12 hours of racing in the intense Florida heat at Sebring is the same as the twice-around-the-clock event in France."

The Beverley-born 2003 Le Mans 24 Hour race winner, who returns to Le Mans this June after an absence of three years, finished fourth in the 2007 LM P2 category standings -- a mere four-points from finishing inside the top-three -- in his first season driving the Porsche.

2008 marks Smith's third full season with the New York State-based Dyson Racing team. Guy and Dyson, whose father Rob founded the team, have scored almost 20 top-six class finishes over the past two seasons, including several second place finishes, but this year aims for that so far elusive class win.

Guy added: "The 2008 Porsche Spyder RS features a number of small, detailed changes compared to last year's model which the Dyson team and myself raced for the first time in 2007. Having got that season of experience under our belts, the Dyson team -- and me for that matter -- will definitely have a better understanding and knowledge of the Porsche which is a totally different machine from the Lola the team previously ran.

"The recent test at Sebring went really. We started with a blank sheet of paper concerning a new set-up and we spent three days fine-tuning the chassis to the notoriously bumpy Sebring track which features a lot of surface changes. We'll start the Sebring race week having made a lot of progress."

Qualifying for grid positions takes place on Thursday (1935-2000, GMT) with the race starting on Saturday at 1405 (GMT).

-credit: guysmithpr

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Series ALMS
Drivers Guy Smith , Chris Dyson