American Le Mans Series

TCF Talks To Guy Smith Ahead Of Petit Le Mans ’09

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In the nine years since Guy Smith made his first American Le Mans Series start at Sebring he has seen the classes change, teams and drivers come and go and a 2009 that has seen the series break unwanted levels.

Yet, as Smith and his Dyson Racing team build up to the 12 running of Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, it's clear that he has no intention of moving on.

“I love sportscar racing,” enthused Smith when he spoke to The Checkered Flag. “This is where I want to remain for the rest of my career.”

As for why he is happy to continue the commute from his UK home to Dyson Racing's he cites both the quality of series and the friendly nature of the racing, “it really feels like a big happy family.”

“It's been gradual growth over the years in terms of quality of the teams and drivers as well as the organisation of the series, the fan base has increased and our spectator attendance has been growing year on year.”

And nowhere is the quality of teams on show higher than the entry list for Petit this weekend. The previously all conquering Audi team, has returned to America with two of the R15 machines that won Sebring. Their modern rivals, and Le Mans victors, Peugeot have also returned with two of their own diesel powered cars, and the French ORECA outfit entering a single car.

Petit Le Mans is perhaps the success story of the ALMS. Unlike its endurance series-mate, the Sebring 12 Hours, PLM is purely an invention of the ALMS and Don Panoz, yet now has joined the more established races on the 'to do' list for teams (hence the presence of Audi and Peugeot) and fans alike. That fact, Smith believes is down to Petit's half-way-house position in sportscar racing.

“More so than Le Mans or Sebring Petit is 100% a sprint race so the racing is hard and fast and therefore great to watch, as a driver it's a real challenge as you have to push like a qualifying lap for 10 hours.”

Yet despite this challenge it will be only his regular season driving partner Chris Dyson alongside Guy in the No.16 Lola Mazda this weekend, while their teammates will have Ben Devlin drafted in to help ease the strain.

“Chris and I are just hardcore!” we are told when we ask whether the drivers have any input into the decision. “Two drivers works at Petit,” he says, comparing it to the infamously bumpy temporary track at Sebring.

As for how well it works, you can find out by following Guy, Chris and the entire Dyson Racing team at Petit Le Mans, with qualifying on Friday, and the race at 11:15am (local time) on Saturday.

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About author
James is our Diet-Coke fuelled writer and has been with TCF pretty much since day 1, he can be found frequenting twitter at @_JBroomhead
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