Guy Smith PR
SMITH EMBARKS ON AMERICAN CHAMPIONSHIP TITLE DEFENCE MISSION
Yorkshireman gets 2012 race season underway in tough 12 hour race
Guy Smith’s defence of his American Le Mans Series “crown” gets underway on Saturday (17 Mar) when the Yorkshireman contests the Sebring 12 Hours in Florida.
Smith scored seven top-two placings from nine races last season and believes the ingredients are in place for a successful title defence in this year’s 10-round endurance sportscar championship staged in North America.
“I plan on winning the ALMS title again,” Guy states. “I want more race wins this year but believe the key to our championship aspirations comes down to reliability.
“Our technical partners at Lola, Mazda and AER have been working tirelessly over the winter to improve performance and reliability.”
The Welton-based race ace drives a new Lola B12/60 Mazda Coupé at Sebring – so new that Smith plus co-drivers Chris Dyson (US) and Steven Kane (N Ireland) will get to drive the British-built machine for the first time just one week before the race.
Guy continued: “We won't get to test our new Lola until tomorrow (10 Mar) which is a shame but I’m certain that won’t pose a massive problem apart from us needing to be a little conservative in terms of our pace which isn’t necessarily a bad tactic in a 12 hour race.
“The Dyson Racing team and I will focus on what we need to do so as to collect maximum ALMS points and not worry about those cars contesting the Sebring race as a one-off in the World Endurance Championship. Our target is a second consecutive ALMS title and scoring points must begin at Sebring.
“We cannot get carried away with the excitement of the event in terms of the European teams that are not part of the regular ALMS contenders. Although we only finished sixth in last year’s Sebring race, we were importantly the top-placed ALMS ‘regulars’ home which was key to us ultimately winning the 2011 title.”
Smith, who has scored three “historic” rally class wins and a praiseworthy 10th place on the Roger Albert Clark Rally since wrapping up the ALMS title last October, sets out on his seventh consecutive ALMS season hungry for the challenge that lays ahead over the next eight months.
“I’m more hungry then ever and I believe I am driving at my best,” adds Guy. “I still have the speed from my youth combined with the experience of a 37-year-old!
“I love racing in the States and I feel I am very lucky to be a part of the ALMS and what it represents. We race on some of the best tracks in the world.”
The Sebring International Raceway is an ultra-fast 3.7-mile, 17-corner track with the normally hot and humid weather conditions combining to make it a severe examination for both car and driver.
An entry of 34-cars is expected from the ALMS along with additional 30 entries from the FIA World Endurance Championship for the 60th Anniversary Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring fuelled by Fresh from Florida – the ingredients for one of America’s greatest sports car race’s ever staged.
Qualifying for grid positions is staged on Friday (16 Mar) with the 12 hour race starting at 2.30pm (UK time) on Saturday (17 Mar).