Bicester, UK, Wednesday 4th April 2001: 26 year-old Guy Smith, from Beverley in Yorkshire, will partner ex-Formula 1 and Le Mans 24 Hour race winner Stefan Johansson in the Gulf Oil-sponsored Audi R8 of Johansson Racing in the opening round of this years European Le Mans Series (ELMS) at Donington Park over the Easter weekend.
This will be Guy's first race in the UK since May last year. "It's going to be great taking on the pair of works Audi's in front of my home crowd. Donington is one of my favourite tracks from my days in Formula Renault and Formula 3, and Stefan is also very quick around there. It's going to be difficult against the works cars, but I'm very confident we can do well and give them a run for their money."
In front of 168,000 in Florida's Sebring 12-hour race last month, Smith partnered Johansson and brought the car home in 4th place, only after electrical problems towards the end of the event denied them a much deserved podium finish. "We had a few problems at the end of the race in Sebring, which definitely cost us third place, but the car was essentially brand new, with very little running prior to qualifying. Those problems have now been sorted out and we will be in good shape for Donington Park."
With a glittering career in British and American single seaters behind him Guy has firmly set his sights on making a name for himself in sportscars after moving to the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) last season. "I am totally focused on what I am doing at present. I have a deal to drive the Johansson Racing Audi in the ELMS and I will be driving the new Bentley at Le Mans in the summer. I have learned a lot already this season from top class drivers like Stefan and Martin Brundle and my aim is to win Le Mans. Being a driving force in sportscar racing will really help my career, it certainly hasn't done Allan McNish (2000 ALMS Champion) any harm with him securing a drive for Toyota in Formula 1. I won't rule out a return to single seaters, 'never say never' is one of my mottos, but I intend to concentrate on the here and now and do the best job I can, starting with the race at Donington next week."
The 30 car grid at Donington Park will be packed with the worlds top sportscars and drivers. When the actions starts at midday on Saturday 14th April the East Midlands circuit will reverberate to the sights and sounds of Le Mans in the first round of the 2001 European Le Mans Series. The big question is will it be a podium finish for the Yorkshire lad on home turf?
Donington Park is situated close to Castle Donington, just minutes by car from Junction 23A of the M1. Advance ticketing is available from the Donington Park Ticket Hotline (from the UK) on 0870 4000 699.