Guy Smith has missed out on a second consecutive American Le Mans Series title despite finishing second in class at the final race of the season in Atlanta, Georgia, on Saturday (20 Oct).
Welton-based Smith and regular American co-driver Dyson, were joined by Northern Ireland’s Steven Kane in their Dyson Racing Lola B12/60 Mazda Coupé that ran a Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) in the 1,000-mile Petit Le Mans around the undulating 12-corner, 2.54-mile Road Atlanta track.
Smith and Dyson, who started from third on the 31-car grid, ultimately finished just nine-points behind season-long rivals Kraf and Luhr – when both title protagonists hit trouble in the annual Petit race.
“It was a shame not to get a better result but winning the championship was always going to be a tall ask but for a time when Luhr crashed it gave us some hope,” confirmed Smith.
“But then we too had problems. The season has been frustrating with our lack of performance and it was a disappointing end to a tough season.”
Smith qualified third, their title rivals Graf/Luhr, joined for this race by Romain Dumas, one place ahead on the 31-car grid. Dyson took the start and lay third until leader Luhr contacted a GT car with one hour gone resulting in substantial front suspension damage.
Dyson continued in second place, despite a drive through penalty and a harmless spin, before Smith took over after 2hrs 12mins into the race resuming 13th overall, third in class – the Graf/Luhr/Dumas car having returned to the race 41 laps in arrears.
But less than 30mins later, Guy lost power due to a fuel pressure issue and all but coasted into the pit-lane. Smith ventured back out on track but again slowed and struggled back to the pits, Guy losing third in class to the recovering Graf/Luhr/Dumas car with 3½hrs gone as the team cured an electrical issue.
Smith spent almost 3½hrs in the car, over an hour stationary in the pits, before Kane and Dyson recovered to second in class – one place ahead of the Graf/Luhr/Dumas car which therefore took the championship title.
Guy continued: “It has been a tough year for us at Dyson Racing but the philosophy within the team is never give up. As a driver I’ve fed off that and have given 100% in every practice and qualifying session and each race, including right up until the chequered flag here at Petit.
“It was a case of taking each race at a time and not really thinking about retaining the championship which, if the results had fallen our way on Saturday, could have come our way.
“But Klaus [Graf] and Lucas [Luhr] were exceptional this year – that said Chris [Dyson] and I were ready to snatch the title here but it was out of our control.
“As throughout the season, in comparison to their car we did not have the [outright] speed but in fairness they didn’t made any mistakes.
“We now focus on 2013 and coming back strong and refreshed ready for Sebring next March. I would like to thank Rob and Chris Dyson for their continued support together with the entire Dyson Racing team for their hard work and giving us a reliable car all season long.
“To our partners Thetford, ModSpace and Racer magazine I would like to say thank you for your support and to our technical partners Mazda, AER, Flybrid and Dunlop thank you for your commitment to giving us the best package and performance.”
Source: Guy Smith