Bentley boy reunited with Le Mans winner at Goodwood

David Hobbs
Bentley boy reunited with Le Mans winner at Goodwood
Bentley boy reunited with Le Mans winner at Goodwood

One of the UK's landmark racing cars is reunited with its driver this weekend for a birthday celebration at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

Goodwood is renowned for marking anniversaries and is even lighting the candles for its 20th birthday this year but sportscar fans will love this one in particular.

Ten years on from winning the 24 Hours, Guy Smith will pilot the Bentley Speed 8 that he drove across the finish line at Le Mans up the Goodwood hill in front of thousands of spectators.

The Speed 8s have been regular visitors to the Festival but Smith is especially looking forward to this year's event as he squeezes into the coupe prototype again.

"The Speed 8 never fails to put a big smile on my face," he told AOL Cars.

"It's great that Bentley keep all the race cars running and using them as they are just too beautiful to be put away in a garage and kept under a dust sheet."

As the 38-year-old readily admits the thrill of winning Le Mans is something that never goes away although he can't believe it's a decade since that famous triumph he shared with Rinaldo Capello and Tom Kristensen.

Bentley boy reunited with Le Mans winner at Goodwood
Bentley boy reunited with Le Mans winner at Goodwood

"It only feels like yesterday. I am incredibly proud to have won Le Mans and to do so for a British brand such as Bentley is really a dream come true - I can't think of a better way to have done it.

"It's only as time has gone by and I have become more aware of the history of Le Mans and of the Bentley boys that I really feel excited to be a small part of it and hope to be in a position to add to my win in the future."

So, how did it feel to be the one who took the chequered flag and clinch the win for Bentley?

"When I look back at the situation, having been asked to finish the race driving the final two hours, it makes me feel nervous now so I have no idea how I must have felt at the time!

"I think we were in the zone so much and focused, we just worked on doing what needed to be done to get the win.

"I remember the final hour felt like it went on forever as if time stood still, I would look at the clock on the start and finish line to see how long was left but I swear it wasn't moving.

"You listen to every noise from the engine and every shift of the gears hoping that nothing will go wrong but the Bentley was so strong it didn't miss a beat."

Bentley boy reunited with Le Mans winner at Goodwood
Bentley boy reunited with Le Mans winner at Goodwood

Since that victory 10 years ago which was the British marque's first victory in the 24 Hours since 1930, Smith has devoted his racing career to the American Le Mans Series, winning the title in 2011 with Dyson Racing, and currently lies second in this season's championship.

The Yorkshire-born driver has visited the Festival of Speed on a number of occasions, enjoying the relaxed atmosphere that has made the event such a draw for thousands. This year, fans will be able to catch him at the Bentley stand or in the F1 paddock but most of all he's looking forward to getting back behind the wheel of the Speed 8.

"Goodwood is such an amazing event and the Bentleys are always very well received.

"Even though it's been 10 years so many people tell me it's still their favourite LMP car, so it's always nice to light up the rear tyres and do a burn out for the crowds!"