Guy Smith prepares for 2004

September 1 2003../Victory at Le Mans 24 Hour race earlier this year for Guy Smith with Team Bentley, has brought more success for the Englishman and given him the opportunity to participate in a host of events to mark this historic win. This...

September 1 2003../Victory at Le Mans 24 Hour race earlier this year for Guy Smith with Team Bentley, has brought more success for the Englishman and given him the opportunity to participate in a host of events to mark this historic win. This week Smith was presented with the Eric Thompson trophy from the Club des Pilotes 24 Heures du Mans; enjoyed a visit to the Breitling factory where he was presented with a limited edition Le Mans timepiece, and was back in the Bentley Speed 8 at Silverstone during the weekend for demonstration laps at the Bentley Drivers Club event. Looking to 2004, Smith is also progressing his plans for returning to the driving seat next season.

The Club des Pilotes 24 Heures du Mans is an elite group of around 200 drivers who have taken part in this fabled race. Each year the highest place British driver wins the Eric Thompson Trophy and this year Guy received the trophy from the man after whom the cup is named. Eric Thompson raced at Le Mans eight times, the first in 1949, a quarter of a century before Guy was born.

Smith was honoured to be invited to the Breitling factory, along with his co-pilots Rinaldo Capello and Tom Kristensen, to be presented with a special watch produced by the company to mark the Team Bentley Le Mans win. One thousand individually numbered Breitling watches have been produced for retail sale, and an additional six, have been made especially for the Bentley drivers and individually engraved with their names. Smith was presented with number 1003, a unique commemoration of his achievement.

The annual Bentley Drivers Club meeting at Silverstone this weekend was the perfect event for the Bentley Speed 8 to be given a run at the home of British motorsport, although Smith drove the second-placed car on this occasion. Many thousands of Bentley car owners and enthusiasts attended this annual day to showcase their cars, take part in the race programme and enjoy meeting fellow Bentley fans.

This week Smith travels back to the USA to continue talks with a number of state-side CART and IRL teams, as he pursues options in both Europe and the USA for a full-time drive next year, as well as looking to a return to Le Mans.

Smith comments on his busy schedule, "I haven't stopped since crossing the finishing line, but I'm thoroughly enjoying all the attention that I am receiving. It was an honour to receive the Eric Thompson trophy; to visit Breitling and be presented with a beautiful, unique watch, and then to return to the car that made this all possible for a day of driving, which was appreciated by some of the most enthusiastic Bentley supporters.

"In addition, I have some driving opportunities for 2004 which I am pursuing and following my initial visit this year to the States, I'm returning this week for further talks with a number of CART and IRL teams, for a possible drive next year. As with all these negotiations, there's still a long way to go, but plans for next year are going well at this stage."

-ah/rsm-

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