05 October, 2010
It was an eighth place finish in the GT2 Class at Petit Le Mans for Rob Bell last weekend. The 1000km, 10 hour endurance race at the one of America’s premier race venues, the Road Atlanta circuit in Braselton, Georgia, is always a huge test for driver and car, and the 12th running of the event was no exception.
The Newcastle-born driver was making his second appearance at this event, driving the Robertson Racing No.04 Ford GT race car for the first time. The team had expanded to two cars for this race weekend, with Bell and his team mates, former NASCAR and IndyCar driver Anthony Lazzaro and current Robertson Racing regular David Murry driving the car, which had never turned a wheel before taking to the Road Atlanta track. With wet weather conditions for some of the pre-race weekend test and practice sessions, combined with technical issues during the race, the team were pleased to race to the chequered flag and post a top ten finish position.
The early stages of the race, with the 44-car field running in a fairly tight pack, saw plenty of bumping and the No.4 car, with Bell’s team mate Murry behind the wheel was an innocent victim of some hard driving by a Ferrari, and later an LMP1 car, with the Robertson Racing driver being pushed off track in both incidents. Murry was able to bring the car back to the pits on both occasions, but by the end of his first stint, the car was around 3 laps down. From this point onwards, it was an uphill task for the team, which was compounded by a starter motor issue which delayed the team at each pitstop.
“It has been a very tough race,” said Bell at the conclusion of the event, “and the GT2 class in particular is very competitive, so I think that many positives can be taken from this result. Reaching the finish with a car which was straight out of the box is an achievement in itself, with the limited running that we had before qualifying.
“I think that the team learned a lot and hopefully my input, along with the other drivers, has provided the feedback which will help them to improve and develop the car for next season, which was one of the goals of the weekend.”
As driver coach for Manor Competition, Bell will be keeping a close eye on the final round of the Formula Renault UK championship this weekend. Four young drivers are racing with the team in the series this year and one of these, Lewis Williamson is lying second in the championship, two points off the leader. Williamson was also recently announced as one of the six 2010 McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year finalists.