02 June, 2015
Matt Bell’s hopes of a top result in the ‘Silverstone 500’ last weekend were dashed just half an hour into the three-hour race when a spin for his team-mate resulted in race-ending damage to the TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage GT3.
Motorsport can be cruel sometimes and Sunday was no exception as the accident happened just as the conditions were turning back to favour the #17 Aston Martin.
“We made good progress at a test here two weeks ago, making some set-up changes and posting some very quick times,” said Matt. “But the track conditions just didn’t seem to suit those changes on Saturday. We reverted back to our old set-up for Sunday and that seemed to cure it. Although we only had a short, wet warm up to test it, Derek’s in lap sector times would have put him P2 of the Amateur drivers and P5 overall, so we were much more confident heading into the race.”
A rain shower just before the race had left behind a very wet track but the forecast was for no more rain. Johnston took the start and despite losing a couple of positions he held on in the tricky conditions and began to make his way back up the order.
“We took a gamble on the set up for the race, assuming that it would dry up fairly quickly,” explained Bell. “The first few laps were tough to drive but Derek was back up into the top 10, doing a good job and the conditions were really starting to swing our way.”
To prove this point, Johnston had just done his fastest first sector of the race but as he went through Stowe corner the two cars ahead of him got very close and when one of them had a small sideways moment Johnston took evasive action to avoid what he expected to end up as an accident. This unfortunately tipped him into a spin and he came to a stop on the exit of Stowe.
Before he could gather it all up and continue, the Aston Martin was collected by a Ferrari that left no room for error as it came through the corner. The resulting damage to the car ended the race for the #17 Aston Martin before Bell had even had a stint in the driving seat!
“I’m bitterly disappointed as we looked to have solved our issues by morning warm up,” he said. “As it transpired in the race our new strategy would have been perfect but we come away from Silverstone with nothing.”
Bell will be hoping for a change of fortune in the next round of the British GT Championship, held at Spa in Belgium in mid-July.