Bentley Team Dyson Racing has announced that Guy Smith will be rejoining the team for the remainder of the Pirelli World Challenge schedule here in the U.S. Smith will be driving the #20 car, replacing Butch Leitzinger, who will stay on with Dyson as a reserve driver.
It has been a frustrating year for Butch who has had his race car totaled twice along with struggling to get his car launched cleanly during the World Challenge’s standing starts. At the same time, Butch has been very fast, setting the lap record during qualifying at Road America, and consistently putting the #20 Bentley Continental GT3 near the front of the field.
“In our quest to increase the team’s performance in the Pirelli World Challenge we’ve been looking at every option available. Guy won for us last season at Miller and we know him very well from the many years he drove for us in the American Le Mans Series,” said team owner Rob Dyson.
This will be Smith’s second stint with Bentley Team Dyson. He joined them as a second car last season in the Pirelli World Challenge where he drove the number #88 Bentley to a win at Miller Motorsport Park in Utah, which is where the next stop is for the Pirelli World Challenge.
Smith joined Bentley for the first time in the early 2000’s when he was part of the trio that won the 2003 24 Hours of Le Mans. In 2005, he made his debut with Dyson Racing at the 24 Hours of Sebring and he became a full-time driver with Dyson the following year. He’s had multiple wins for the team including the 2011 IMSA American Le Man Series championship, co-driving with current Bentley Team Dyson driver Chris Dyson.
When Bentley set out to develop their first modern sports car program, they tapped Smith to be their development driver. He worked with M-Sport, Bentley’s racing partner and the constructor of the Bentley Continental GT3 race car, to develop the car to it’s current configuration. He currently drives the Bentley Team M-Sport factory effort in the FIA Blancpain Endurance Series in Europe.
“While the team has made good progress since joining the series in the middle of the 2014 season, we’re not yet where we need to be in terms of being competitive every race weekend,” Dyson said, noting that the decision to make a change was made with close consultation with Bentley Motorsports in Crewe, England.
Clearly Bentley is making this move because they believe it positions them better for winning in the series. As I learned when I visited the team at Road America, Bentley’s Motorsports efforts are very focused. Having a strong racing program helps to build brand awareness, elevates their sporty image, and helps drive car sales. Running a racing program costs time and money and they needs results for those efforts.
This lineup change works for Smith’s schedule for the rest of this season, but it’s unclear what it means for next season’s driver lineup, when it is expected that Dyson and Bentley will continue their partnership.
The Pirelli World Challenge will be at Miller Motorsport Park in Utah this weekend, followed by Sonoma raceway the following weekend, and then they wrap up the season at Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey California on September 12 and 13th.
Source: Dyson Racing, h/t nasportscar.com