It may now be almost six years since Guy Smith triumphed in the iconic Le Mans 24 Hours, but that does not mean the Yorkshireman does not dream of holding aloft the coveted trophy again – possibly even as early as 2009.
Smith prevailed in the legendary French round-the-clock classic for Bentley alongside multiple winner Tom 'Mr Le Mans' Kristensen and Rinaldo Capello in 2003, what remains the last victory for a closed-top sportscar to-date. It is a memory that he still clearly holds dear to his heart – and one that he'd keenly like to repeat one day.
“I hope to be back,” he told Crash.net Radio
. “I'm not quite sure with which team yet or which car, but I'm pretty confident of being back. It's such a great race that I think any sportscar driver wants to be there.
“Obviously having won the race in the past makes it difficult, because anything other than a win after that is disappointing, but hopefully I can find the best opportunity possible and have another shot at trying to win it again.”
Meanwhile, the 34-year-old admitted he is excited about Dyson Racing's new closed-coupé Lola-Mazda project this year, with a planned assault on the American Le Mans Series and historic Sebring 12 Hours LMP2 laurels. A tilt at glory in the Daytona 24 Hours was shelved to 'put all our efforts into the ALMS programme' – and it is a programme, he reveals, that is progressing nicely.
“This year at Dyson Racing we've got the BP Mazda programme,” he explained, “so it's obviously going to be new to us, but so far testing has gone very well and it's all quite exciting. I'm looking forward to it. We're going out there to win the LMP2 championship, and hopefully win some outright races too.
“We tested a couple of days before Christmas, which was the initial test with the car, and it was very good. Hopefully we can put everything in place for Sebring. Being a twelve-hour race it's obviously very tough, so we've got to have everything just right, and hopefully we can do that.”
As to the overall health of the ALMS, finally, in the wake of champions Audi's withdrawal, Smith admitted things would seem a little different in the credit crunch era of 2009 – though he remained confident the quality of on-track action would not be adversely affected in any way.
“It's always difficult,” the former Champ Car ace reflected. “The past year in 2008 was fantastic for both the car count and the quality of the car count, and this year it's going to be hit obviously as Audi have pulled out, as have a couple of other manufacturers and teams too. It's going to be hit like all motorsport, but I'm sure the racing will still be strong and tight as ever.”