MONTEREY, CA May 10, 2013 – Maybe it is the overcast of the marine layer which makes England’s Guy Smith feel at home here at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. He won poles here in 2010 and 2011 and this year qualified second for tomorrow’s four-hour American Le Mans Monterey race. He qualified four tenths of a second behind the Rebellion entry and ahead of the Muscle Milk car. He secured his second place start on lap eight of twelve and further improved his time on the last lap.
“We made a number of changes for qualifying and Chris made some good changes in the prior practice session,” said Smith. “The competition this year is first class. We have seen the Rebellion pushing the factory Toyotas in Europe and Muscle Milk is a first class team. Any time you are amongst those guys, than you are doing a good job.”
Chris Dyson, Guy’s driving partner in the #16 Mazda-powered Thetford/RACER Lola, noted that “Guy really knows how to bear down here. It was definitely impressive. We have been concentrating on race set up the past couple days. The car has the speed and the engine is outstanding and we have a good race car for tomorrow.”
One of the four North American race tracks to have held an ALMS race every year since the series inception in 1999, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is also one of the most engineering challenging tracks in the series. Vince Wood, Dyson Racing’s race engineer, noted that “this track incorporates every kind of corner you can imagine. With its mix of high speed and low speed corners, the set up here is more of a compromise than at most other tracks. You have a lot of fast sections and you have three places where you come from a really fast section into a really slow section. Most tracks have one slow corner. This track has three distinctly different slow corners. So the set up compromise here tends to favor more the low speed sections as that is where you spend most of your time during a lap. If you are good in the slow sections, you can make up a lot of time.
“And the weather here is a big factor. You go from the morning’s marine layer, which cools the track, to sunshine to dark and cold again. The hardest thing here is when it turns dark it gets quite cold. I remember Tony Kanaan going from seventh to second here in just five laps by making the right decisions on tire pressures and having the car where he needed it at the end of the race. If you made the right judgments, than when that last yellow comes out with twenty laps to go, you will be in a position to win.”
The American Le Mans Series Monterey airs Sunday, May 12, at 4 PM ET on ESPN2. The race will be live-streamed on ESPN3 on Saturday, May 11th at 6:15 PM ET. The Series’ website offers live in-car cameras, along with timing and scoring.
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