Guy Smith says his decision to retire from the Bentley factory GT3 program gives him a chance to “take a step back” and focus on his family and business commitments.
The longtime Bentley factory driver competed in his last race with the M-Sport crew at Silverstone on Sunday, and will be replaced by Jordan Pepper in the car for the rest of the season.
“I would have liked to have gone on for the rest of the year but I just didn’t feel like I quite had the energy and the appetite to do it,” Smith told Sportscar365.
“I’ve got more and more stuff going on outside of racing that it’s just taking up more and more time. I’m getting up and 5:30, going on my bike for three hours and going to meetings and this and that.
“I’m just juggling three or four different things. It gets to the point that my teammates are calling me and they want to talk about the car and the weekend and I’m in another meeting.
“It gets to 7 p.m. and it’s, ‘Let’s talk about the car’. It’s not that I’m not bothered, it’s just that I haven’t got the time to justify it.
“There are series where you can almost just turn up and do it, and get away with it, but [in the Blancpain GT Series], you can’t just rock up. You’ve got to be on it.
“I just felt that I was maybe not giving the best of myself in that respect. I could still do it, but it takes a lot of effort.”
Smith has been an integral part of Bentley’s sports car programs in recent years and was part of the lineup that gave the brand its first GT win at Silverstone in 2014, before going on to secure its first North American victory in the Pirelli World Challenge round at Miller Motorsports Park later that year.
Because of his pedigree with the manufacturer, he wanted to remain with the M-Sport team through the new-generation car’s introduction and first two races, leading him to compete in the first two Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup rounds.
“Towards the end of the year, I was definitely thinking about whether I was going to stop or not,” he explained. I just felt, with the new car coming out, I wanted to be part of the transition.
“I was a part of the Le Mans era, and the first generation GT3, so I wanted to be a small part of this one, so I could at least understand how the car is and how it’s working so moving forward I understand how it all works.”
Smith Considering Future Customer Bentley Return
While leaving the factory program, Smith hasn’t entirely retired from driving and says he would consider a return to the manufacturer’s customer programs in the future.
He will also continue as a Bentley brand ambassador and could still work with the drivers and team but has so far only had “fairly loose conversations” about his future roles.
“I want to keep it open,” he said. “I still love driving, I still love racing, but I just didn’t really quite need the pressure and the stress, just to take a step back.
“If I were to do Pirelli World Challenge or maybe British GT or whatever, I’d definitely consider it. But for the moment I just need to let the dust settle and just see.
“I’d love to keep driving and racing but more on my own terms. I love driving here, I love the team and everybody – it’s like a big family – but I just need to take a step back and that’s it.
“I’m excited. I’m sad in one respect but I also feel like I’m making the right decisions for me and the family, so I’m happy with it.”