Guy Smith contests the Sebring 12 Hours in Florida on Saturday (21 Mar) hoping to mark in style a memorable new car debut and his 10th anniversary in the prestigious Florida race. The 34-year-old from Driffield drives a brand new British-built...
Guy Smith contests the Sebring 12 Hours in Florida on Saturday (21 Mar) hoping to mark in style a memorable new car debut and his 10th anniversary in the prestigious Florida race.
The 34-year-old from Driffield drives a brand new British-built Lola Coupe B09/86 powered by a two-litre turbocharged Mazda engine in the LM P2 category in the 2009 American Le Mans Series opener.
Smith contests the 57th running of the Sebring event alongside regular co-driver Chris Dyson aiming to earn the American Dyson team LM P2 class glory and get their ALMS title assault off to a flying start.
"The most important thing is to finish the Sebring race as it's worth double points and the LM P2 class is so competitive that you can't afford to drop points in the first race of the season," confirmed Guy.
"The BP Lola-Mazda 'package' is new to me and the Dyson team but we've already proved it to be fast in testing and the Mazda engine is performing exceptionally well. We will be at Sebring to win and having led outright last year, I feel we can be up there fighting again but we need to be smart and run at our own 'comfortable' pace."
The Sebring International Raceway is a 17-corner circuit and is the oldest road course in North America, portions of which were originally a World War II B-17 training base. The nature of the 3.7 mile track, located in central Florida, is considered a car "breaker" and very hard physically on the driver.
Guy added: "Sebring is tougher than Le Mans in some respects. Although it's half the duration, the track is much bumpier and tougher on all areas of the car -- suspension, brakes and gearbox for example.
"Also from a driver's point of view, there are no long straights to rest -- unlike the Mulsanne Straight at Le Mans -- so you really are thrown around, despite being belted in tightly, and therefore take quite a physical beating.
"Additionally, this year I'm driving a Coupe -- a car with a roof -- for the first time for a number of years. It's hotter in the cockpit than an 'open' car so I've adjusted my training. I've been taking longer runs with lots of layers of clothes on to get used to working in the heat. I have also been building up my heat tolerance in the sauna."
Qualifying for grid positions on the near 30-car grid is staged on Thursday (19 Mar) at 1915 (GMT) with the race, attended by over 170,000 last year, scheduled to begin at 1430 (GMT) on Saturday (21 March).
"This is one of my favourite races after Le Mans," concluded Smith. "It is the first race of the year and after an off season, I can't wait to be racing again. Sebring also has an electric atmosphere and the crowd are brilliant making it a very special event."
Meanwhile Smith returned home from France this week after a successful two-day test at the Paul Ricard circuit which saw him drive the Quifel-ASM team's new Ginetta-Zytek 09S sportscar which set the quickest time in the LM P2 class. Guy will drive this car in the Le Mans 24 Hours over 13-14 June.