Guy Smith diary: Thursday

Thursday was another good day at Le Mans for autosport.com diarist Guy Smith. The qualifying time co-driver Tom Kristensen had set in the Bentley Speed 8 on Wednesday remained unbeaten in the final sessions, ensuring the Briton's car would start the race from the front of the grid

Guy Smith diary: Thursday

"It's really good that we're starting from pole. I knew Tom Kristensen's lap on Wednesday was really strong, but you can never be sure about anything until the flag has dropped. Johnny Herbert had a good lap going in the other Bentley at one point, but he lost some time with a bit of traffic. It could have been much, much closer between our two cars.

There's been lots of friendly banter between the two Bentley crews. The other guys really tried to get pole off of us - they used far more sets of qualifying tyres than we did!

Tom's been doing the qualifying runs for our car, so Me and Rinaldo [Capello] have been concentrating on doing race runs and working on our set-up. We've now got a set-up on the car that we feel really comfortable with.

In the first qualifying session I lapped in 3m35.9s, which was the second fastest time behind Herbert. I was really happy with that, and it's good confidence boost going into the race. Every time I get in the car, I know I can go faster than before. I still lack experience at Le Mans, so I'm improving with every lap I complete round here.

It's nice to be on pole, but it really means nothing in a race this long, and the competition is looking quite threatening. The Audis have been very quick, and the Racing for Holland Dome has done its usual trick to be very fast in qualifying. I think it's shaping up to be a great race.

Off-track, I've been very busy. I took a wander out into the grandstands and around the track, to meet some fans and get into the spirit of the race a bit. I think it's important to get out of the paddock and enjoy some of the race atmosphere. There's been lots of Brits coming up and wishing me luck, and I've had lots of e-mails and phone-calls from well-wishers.

My friends and family have all started to arrive, so I've also got to find time to see them in between the technical meetings and PR events that I have to do for Bentley. There's lots of promotional work involved in being a Bentley driver, and it's quite easy to get stressed out unless you plan your time really well. But I don't mind - it's an honour to drive a Bentley at Le Mans, especially with all the British fans who have come over to cheer us on."

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