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Guy Smith's lap around Sebring
by Guy Smith
March 13, 2002

Briton Guy Smith will contest the opening round of the ALMS series, the 50th 12 Hours of Sebring on March 16th. Guy, runner-up in the recent Daytona 24 Hours in the Matthews Racing Riley & Scott, will team-up with team owner Jim Matthews, with the third driver yet to be announced. Here the 27 year-old from Hull gives his views on the classic Florida circuit that will host Americaís oldest sports endurance race.

ďThe Sebring International Raceway is one of the most challenging circuits and this race weekend is going to be particularly demanding as the level of competition is very high.

Turn one is very exciting and challenging as we approach the corner flat out in top gear at around 170 mph then right at the last minute downshift to 4th. We then get hard back on the power but itís tricky to find the apex as itís blind when turning in and we are still carrying around 120 mph through the corner. Itís also very bumpy and you often see sparks flying from the cars as they hit the bumps, which looks very spectacular at night!

Turn 2 is a very tight 2nd gear corner thatís very tricky to get right. The apex is a big high curb that you donít want to touch and minimum speed here will be around 80mph.

The Carousel, as turn 3 is better known, is a very technical corner where minimum and exit speed are vital but as itís very bumpy a good set up is very important. The next straight is a good overtaking spot so a good run on to the straight is a must.

We approach turn 4 which is a tight 1st gear hairpin at around 165 mph so stopping the car is always tough and its very easy to go in to hot and miss the apex. Itís a good overtaking spot and there is always a lot of action here during the race. Exit is very important with such a long straight, straight after.

Cunningham bend is quite a tough corner as itís made up of lots of different surfaces and itís always difficult to find the grip and traction. Itís very technical and you really need to know were to place the car to find the maximum grip.
Corner Speeds here are around 60 mph. There are always plenty of fans on this corner and every time I race there I always try to go out and see them.

Turn 6 is probably the bumpiest corner on the whole circuit. It has a high speed entry of around 140 mph in 5th gear and then itís down two gears to 3rd and you try to carry as much speed through the corner as possible which is tough as the car can feel like a ďbucking broncoĒ if itís not set up well. Itís quite an important corner for lap times so itís one you really have to dial the car in for.

Bishop bend is very straightforward. Itís taken flat out in top gear at around 155mph Ė itís really a no brainier.

Turn 8 is not just one corner itís a series of right-lefts and itís high speed at around 110mph but itís where the car needs to have a good high speed balance as a Ďlazyí will just not work. Good corner speed and momentum are key and a good drive onto the back straight, where we see the top speed of around 175mph, is super important.

The straight feels really wide as the circuit used to be part of an old runway and hasnít changed much over the years and itís still as bumpy!

The final corner, Sunset bend is a tough one as you have a very high entry speed and you start to brake as you turn into the corner, which can make the car quite twitchy.

Again itís very bumpy and you are always trying to find the smoothest line to avoid the bumps. I tend to hold the car in tight to the apex and really concentrate on getting a good drive on to the pit straight to complete another lap of the Sebring circuit.Ē

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