Guy Smith - Rally Driver?
'..A bit different to the Mulsanne Straight at 3am..'
[YORK] Cottingham based Le Mans 24 Hour winner Guy Smith recently swapped his Bentley race car for something quite different, as he joined Yorkshire rally driver Olly Marshall for a day at the RallyDrive School in Lincolnshire.
Marshall, MD of York based preparation company ProSpeed Motorsport, was delighted to offer the BBC Humber Sports Personality of the Year the opportunity to sample a Peugeot 206 XS rally car, as used by the ProSpeed team during the 2003 season.
Smith is more used to super smooth, high speed, all tarmac circuits and the glamour of the race world than a converted airfield in Blyton. Despite the unfamiliar surroundings, the Team Bentley driver was looking forward to his first outing in a rally car, with 22 year old Marshall as his instructor.
After talking Guy through the various techniques required to drive a rally car as opposed to a race car, the pair set off around the Blyton track to get a feel for the 1.6 litre front wheel drive Peugeot, producing around 160 horse power. The red 206 used by Marshall on the recent Wales Rally GB is a stark contrast to Smith's regular mount - a twin turbo Bentley V8 racer producing over 600 horse power in a super lightweight carbon fibre shell!
Despite the differences between rallying and racing, it was soon clear that the Humberside man had natural car control as he took the 206 through its paces around the Lincolnshire venue. Within a few laps, Smith was enjoying sliding the Peugeot into the corners - sliding being the anathema of the race driver as it loses them time during a race!
In classic wet and murky rally conditions, Smith loved every second of his first acquaintance with a rally car, with Marshall very impressed at the way he adapted his style to suit the ProSpeed Motorsport machine. After another attempt at the circuit in the 206, Guy was over the moon with his performance in such an alien environment:
"It was a bit of a culture shock at first" said Smith. "Racing is all about being inch perfect, making sure the car doesn't slide and the braking technique is so completely different. I was really impressed with ProSpeed's Peugeot 206 XS though. The car handled really well and it was very forgiving to drive. I soon felt that I had enough confidence in the car to throw it into the corners, and it was a really enjoyable experience. Olly gave me plenty of encouragement to go faster and it was great fun. I'd love to have a go on a proper rally to see how I get on!"
ProSpeed boss Marshall was equally pleased to have given the successful racer an experience to remember:
"Guy really enjoyed his time with us on the day. It was obvious straight away that he was a professional driver as his car control and reactions were exactly what you would expect of a race driver. He took to the car like a duck to water and it was really good fun for everyone concerned. I'm sure that Guy would acquit himself very well if he did enter a rally - so who knows what might happen in the future!"
ProSpeed Motorsport have been busy developing an online global presence in motorsport recently, launching a new company website at www.prospeed-motorsport.co.uk. MD and lead driver Olly Marshall will be announcing some extremely ambitious plans for the 2004 season immediately after the New Year celebrations.