Circuit de la Sarthe
Smith Focuses On Winning “Unofficial” “Petrol Division” At Le Mans
Welton’s Guy Smith starts the 79th running of the Le Mans 24 Hour endurance sportscar race on Saturday afternoon (11 June) aiming to win the unofficial “petrol division”.
I’m really looking forward to Le Mans as I feel the Rebellion team has unfinished business there.
Beverley-born Smith drives a petrol-engined Lola-Toyota for the Swiss Rebellion team aiming to be the best-placed non-diesel powered sportscar.
The Yorkshireman, who recently moved to Welton near Hessle, won the 2003 Le Mans race for Bentley but since 2006, diesel-engined sportscars have dominated the annual twice-around-the-clock race.
The “factory” Audi and Peugeot diesel-powered cars are expected to fight amongst themselves for outright race honours again leaving Yorkshireman Smith determined to be the best-placed petrol-powered car.
Smith’s eighth career Le Mans race appearance will see the Yorkshireman share the driving duties with Andrea Belicchi (Italy) and Jean-Christophe Boullion (France) for a second consecutive year on the ultra-fast 8.47-mile circuit.
“I’m really looking forward to Le Mans as I feel the Rebellion team has unfinished business there after retiring from last year’s race,” commented Smith.
“Both the team and myself are very keen to put that behind us and hopefully finish the race as the top petrol car and ideally among the top five or six.
“Le Mans is the ultimate challenge for both man and machine and it throws up so many challenges along the way that in order to come through it in the best possible shape, you have to have good teamwork and a strong work ethic which I think team manager Bart Hayden has instilled in the team.
“My co-drivers are all proven race winners and are all hugely talented as are our engineers and technical partners that are involved right the way through the team. With the Lola chassis we have the best ‘customer’ car available while the V8 Toyota engine gives us a very solid and impressive power plant.”
Smith tested the Lola-Toyota at an official one-day test at Le Mans in April in which it clocked the 10th fastest time – the third quickest non-diesel – despite predominantly spending the eight-hour test fine-tuning the car’s set-up in preparation for the race week.
Guy continued: “The test day was a mixed bag for us as we were testing a new aerodynamic package on the Lola as well as the wide front tyres so most of the day was spent gathering data on the new parts so we can apply our findings come race week.
“There is a large gap to the diesel powered cars in terms of straight line speed and that is disappointing as the ACO this year had revised the rules in an attempt to equalize the performance of diesel and petrol engined cars.
“But I can only focus on my car and my own performance both of which I am very happy with.”
Smith will contest another twice-around-the-clock race just two weeks after Le Mans when the Englishman makes his début on the Nürburgring’s “fearsome” Nordschleife. The annual race staged on the daunting 15.5-mile circuit is expected to feature over 200 cars and more than 700 drivers over 25-26 June.
“I’ll be driving a RJN prepared Nissan 370Z,” concludes Smith. “The GT4 entry is supported by Falken Tyres while my co-drivers are Kurt Thim, from Denmark, and fellow Brit Alex Buncombe.
“I’ve taken part in two VLN championship races in preparation for the 24 hours. The circuit is just wild – it really is something else. It’ll be a great challenge especially for me as I have very little GT car experience so learning the car and the track is quite a challenge but one I aim to enjoy.”
-source: guy smith PR