01 July, 2013
Leading British sportscar driver and McLaren factory driver, Rob Bell, put in a blistering performance at the third round of the Blancpain Endurance Series in Paul Ricard this weekend. A storming drive from 22nd on the grid to sixth place helped Gulf Racing UK to bring home their No.69 McLaren MP4-12C GT car in tenth place.
The weekend began well for Bell with sixth fastest time in the first practice session. Sharing the driving duties with Gulf Racing UK regulars Adam Carroll and Nico Verdonck, the team continued its preparations with the pre-qualifying session and then qualifying. Posting 22nd fastest time overall put the No.69 McLaren MP4-12C GT in the first third of the 62 car grid and 14th in the PRO class of the series.
Bell was given the privilege of taking the start for the Paul Ricard race and made good use of his time behind the wheel. Over the course of his stint he made his way through the pack and with a good race pace was able to secure sixth place before handing over the McLaren MP4-12C GT to his team mates. By then end of the two and a quarter hour race, the team were lying in tenth place to claim the final championship point. Bell now lies ninth in the Drivers’ Standings and the team are in eighth place.
Bell said of the weekend, “It was a bit of a disappointing weekend, as we felt we had a better car than we experienced at Paul Ricard. We never really got to grips with the car, yet other McLaren MP4-12C GTs were strong throughout the sessions. We think some teams saved new tyres for the latter part of the race, which might be a factor, but I’ll be working with the team to review the weekend and looking to turn our fortunes around for the next race.
“As always, there were some highlights and for me personally this was a great stint at the beginning of the race, “says Bell. “I enjoyed carving my way up the order, but while I was doing that the front-runners were building up a gap, so it was always going to be a struggle to finish much higher than we did. We did run reliably and the team worked well together, so I’m sure we can improve on our performance at the next outing. In the meantime the team are heading off to Spa for valuable testing, ahead of the Spa 24 Hour race later this month.”
Bell will return to the cockpit of the Gulf Racing UK McLaren MP4 -12C GT car at Spa –Francorchamps circuit in Belgium for the 24 hour race from 27- 28 July, another highlight of the endurance racing calendar.