01 April, 2013
Matt Bell’s British GT season got off to a cracking start today when he and his United Autosports team-mate Mark Patterson powered to second place in the final race of the day at Oulton Park.
Race one took place this morning and it was Mark’s turn to take the start from eighth on the grid. The hour-long race had to be started behind the safety car when another car went off the track on the warm up lap. Mark held position once the race went green but it was clear that something was amiss.
Matt explained: “It turned out that the rim of the front left wheel had a tiny crack in it. It was too small to see but as soon as it was under load it let air out of the tyre so that effectively gave us a slow puncture. When the time came for Mark to pit the tyre had less than 50% pressure in it. The team did a mega job to work out what was happening and quickly change the wheel before I jumped in.”
Matt joined the race in the Audi R8 LMS Ultra in 17th position with a lot of ground to make up. The Geordie racer got his head down quickly though and made it all the way through to tenth place at the chequered flag. After the post race exclusion of another car Matt and Mark were promoted to ninth position.
For race two starting duty came down to Matt. Starting from seventh he managed to jump former FIA GT Champion Matteo Bobbi but the Italian got his own back soon after. The professional racers running at the front were very closely matched so Matt fought hard for every inch of track and pitted at the halfway mark to hand over to Mark in sixth place.
Matt said: “I have to say all credit again to the team in the pit stop as they called it perfectly and got Mark out with clean air in front of him so he could bang in a very fast out lap, taking fourth place. I can’t remember who was in third but Mark made light work of him and then the car in second had a spin so we took second.”
The safety car came out during the closing stages, which forced all the action into the final lap of the race. Mark tackled David Ashburn’s Porsche for the lead and the two came through the last corner of the last lap side by side until Ashburn shut the door on the Audi.
A jubilant Matt said: “Second place this afternoon is a great result for us and it has got our season off to a great start. I think we are one of the strongest pairings in British GT. The pace of the car is good and the team is strong. We took some good points today and I’m now looking forward to the next round so we can do it all over again.”