Smith is Le Mans Rookie of the Year

Guy Smith has been awarded the coveted Le Mans 24hr Rookie of the year award after being the fastest newcomer around the circuit de La Sarthe in qualifying

Smith is Le Mans Rookie of the Year

Smith is part of the crack Johanssen Matthews Reynard team which will start today's race from seventh on the grid. While it was team-leader Stephan Johanssen who was responsible for the seventh placed time, Smith's personal best was 18th fastest, and some 20 places ahead of his nearest rookie rival.

"I hadn't realised I was the quickest Rookie," explained Smith, "so this has all come as a bit of a surprise. I'm obviously delighted to win the award."

Smith has been on a steep learning curve this week, but has had plenty of advice on tap from ex-Formula 1 star Johanssen. A mark of his pace is that co-team-owner and more experienced third driver Jim Matthews was 20 places behind Smith.

"It was easier for me running in the daylight as I had to learn the track. The main thing is that every time I get in the car I'm going faster, which is important," said Smith.

In fact the only real glitch of the weekend for the 25 year old, occurred during final qualifying when his Reynard hit an unfortunate rabbit. (Irony alert! Irony alert! Renard is French for fox...)

Smith recalls: "Just before the Porsche curve I saw a pair of bright eyes of a rabbit very briefly, then next minute, 'bang', I'd hit it. As I went through the curves all I could smell was cooking rabbit!"

If that is the worst of the new Rookie of the Year's problems, he should be in for a relatively trouble-free race.

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