Guy Smith diary: Victory!

Autosport.com diarist Guy Smith scored the biggest victory of his career in the Le Mans 24 Hours. The Briton, along with co-drivers Tom Kristensen and Rinaldo Capello, took a dominant win in the classic event driving for the works Bentley team. In his final Le Mans diary instalment, Smith explains what it feels like to win one of the world's most famous races

Guy Smith diary: Victory!

"The last two hours of the race seemed to last forever! I was listening to every little sound the car made that could turn out to be a problem - it was really nerve-wracking. All I could think about was the level of responsibility that was resting on me during those last hours. I had the hopes of a lot of people on my shoulders - it was the last year of a three-year programme for Bentley, and the team and the fans all really wanted a win.

I was a bit in awe of the responsibility I had, so I couldn't really enjoy the last two hours at all. Every time I drove past the finish line I'd glance up at the countdown clock, but it never seemed to move - it was like time was frozen!

I'd planned to back off quite a bit in the closing laps, but I was encountering loads of traffic, so it was easier to speed up a bit and get clear of it, just to be on the safe side. We had thought about setting up a formation finish with the second place Bentley, but it wasn't easily possible because of the traffic and other things, so I just kept going at my own pace.

My previous two visits to Le Mans have ended in disaster, so this result was a nice change! I retired before nightfall in both of my last two races here, so this felt very much like my first proper Le Mans. I really took a lot of inspiration from having great team-mates like Tom and Dindo. Obviously, I'm the youngest of the team by some margin, so I'm without the experience that they have, and their support has been so helpful.

It was really special to have Stefan Johansson [who finished third for the Champion Audi team] join me on the podium. It was Stefan who gave me my first break in sportscars, so it was like having my fairy godmother up on the podium to celebrate with me!

The fact that I've won Le Mans still hasn't really sunk in, but I've already decided that I want to come back next year in another competitive car and defend my title. I don't know what Bentley are going to do yet, and I don't have a contract, so any offers for next year are more than welcome..."

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2003: Bentley wins Le Mans

2003: Bentley wins Le Mans
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