02 May, 2016
McLaren factory GT driver, Rob Bell, rejoined Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse this weekend for the second round of the 2016 Pirelli British GT Championship at Rockingham Motor Speedway. Sharing driving duties with Alasdair McCaig in the team’s McLaren 650S GT3, finishing seventh in the two hour race.
In the first practice session the #79 car posted sixth quickest lap, with Rob setting the team’s best lap time just five laps into the session. Rob improved on his pace in the second practice session, with fourth quickest lap overall, set towards the end of the session.
Rob put in a strong performance in GT Pro qualifying, flying to second fastest time in the three lap session, less than a tenth off pole. Alasdair also put in a strong performance, with second quickest lap in the GT Am class. The combined qualifying times for the two drivers put the McLaren 650S GT3 second on the grid, just three-tenths off the polesitter, TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage.
Alasdair took the start in the #79 car, maintaining position and slotting in behind the Aston Martin in the opening laps. A hard charging Lamborghini slipped past the McLaren to drop Alasdair to third place. As the race settled Alasdair maintained third, but an electrical issue slowed his pace and he lost positions finally handing the car over to Rob in seventh place. After the mandatory pitstops, Rob was lying in ninth position, but quickly put the power down to improve back to seventh. With two safety car periods, Rob’s attempts to improve further were curtailed. However, he held position until the chequered flag, a strong top ten finish for the fledgling Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse #79 car.
Rob said after the race, “Although we had a strong race, it could have been even better, and possibly a podium finish, if we hadn’t had a technical glitch which hampered us throughout the race, so we didn’t have the smooth run that we’d hoped for. Despite this, Alasdair drove really well and fended off plenty of challenges in his stint. My drive was good, but like Alasdair, I suffered at time with our electrical glitch, so couldn’t put in the performance the car is capable of showing. It’s still early days for the team, so we’ll learn from the experience and I know we’ll be back out fighting for the win next time out.”
Rob returns to the race track next week, campaigning the Garage 59 McLaren 650S GT3 in the Blancpain Sprint Series at Brands Hatch.