Guy Smith sets fastest lap time and achieves pole position for Race #2 at Sonoma
SONOMA, Calif. – Dyson Racing Team Bentley scored a third-place finish in the 13th round of the Pirelli World Challenge. The successful finish followed the team’s best qualifying effort of the year, with Bentley Boys Butch Leitzinger and Guy Smith setting the second- and third-fastest times of the qualifying session. Leitzinger finished third, just three-tenths of a second behind runner-up Ryan Dalziel.
“That was a huge amount of fun,” Leitzinger said shortly after climbing out of the #08 Bentley after the race. “I had a lot of fun racing with Ryan at the end. We gave each other room, so it was good hard clean racing. I can’t say enough about Bentley and Dyson Racing Team Bentley: the car was great and the team did an excellent job preparing it.”
Meanwhile, Smith, who was making his first series start as the team added a second entry, provided much of the afternoon’s excitement after he spun on the first lap and then proceeded to charge back through the field and made up 30 spots in 50 minutes, setting the fastest lap of the race on his way to an eventual ninth-place finish.
Smith’s fast lap means he’ll start Sunday’s race from the pole, while Leitzinger’s fourth-fastest race lap means he’ll line up on the outside of the second row.
This weekend marked veteran Bentley Boy and long-time Dyson driver Smith’s return to North American competition. Smith will also drive the #88 Bentley Continental GT3 at the season’s final two-race meet at Miller Motorsports Park, September 12th and 13th.
“It is good to be back at Dyson and good to be back racing in America again” Smith said. “I have enjoyed racing in Europe and getting reacquainted with tracks I have not raced at in a long time. But I missed racing here in America.”
Smith was the lead development driver for the Bentley Continental GT3 and races the car in the Blancpain Series in Europe. This season he has wins to his credit at Silverstone and Paul Ricard. “I know the car well and having two of them at a race meet gives us the chance to compare contrasting approaches to setting up the car. We can try different things and get much more done in a weekend. With the short amount of practice time available on race weekends, this is an important advantage, one many of Bentley’s competitors had enjoyed over us before this weekend. Having a second entry helps push both cars further up the grid.”
Leitzinger, who has driven the #08 Bentley Continental GT3 since its mid-season introduction at Road America in June, seconded Smith’s appraisal as he welcomed Guy and the second car to the team. “If you have one car, you have to go through all the base line set-ups to find out where you are; you can start practice in a completely different direction with the second car, one you may not normally be as comfortable with. And if it turns out that doesn’t work, you know how the base line set-up worked with the first car, so you don’t get lost. You always have a touchstone you can come back to. That enables you to be more adventurous from the first practice session on – you can swing for the fences.”
Dyson Racing Team Bentley will be back at bat this afternoon and will aim for that 400 foot fence.