06 April, 2009
Rob Bell kicked off his European racing season in style this weekend, at the first round of the 2009 Le Mans Series on the Catalunya Circuit in Barcelona. Bell in the JMW Motorsport Ferrari F430 driving alongside Gianmaria Bruni, had a strong race in the GT2 category which ended with a well deserved second place after a race long battle for the lead.
The Barcelona circuit was soaked in early spring sunshine as the cars took to the track for the start of the six hour LMS race. Bruni was behind the wheel of the Ferrari F430 after taking the GT2 pole position for the team during Saturday’s session.
As the lights went green the team lost a couple of places at the start of the race after the pole sitter braked hard, causing a ripple effect and forcing Bruni to back off the throttle. The experienced sportscar driver was undaunted and stayed close to his rivals, handing over the Ferrari from third place. After a quick pitstop, Bell had his first opportunity to get out on track and push forward. By the end of his first stint Bell had moved ahead and was lying second in the GT2 category.
Jumping out of the car after his initial time behind the wheel Bell said, “We have good pace, but it’s tough out there and the car’s not handling quite as well as want it to be. It’s a long race though and we’re in the lead group, so we have a shot at the podium”
Throughout the remaining hours of the race the lead changed hands several times, with the JMW Ferrari always in the mix. The battle for victory became ever more intense, as the final stages of the race approached. The chequered flag fell with Bell and the No.92 JMW Motorsport Ferrari crossing the line in a strong second place, giving the team a well deserved podium in their debut race.
Rob Bell commented on the race weekend, “It was a solid start for the first race of the year for us, the points are always welcome. The team were great and all of our pitstops were faultless, we just aren’t quite as quick as the Porsche yet. We need to make small improvements all round from tyres to handling, but for a first outing there are many positives we can take away. We had very little running on Friday after a misfire so we were on the back foot after that. Making such a strong recovery is all credit to an excellent team effort and I’m sure we’ll keep improving.
“I predicted the Lietz/Lieb pairing in a Porsche would come out strong and I was right! We’ll do our homework now and then roll on Spa!”
Bell is back behind the wheel today as he joins CRS Racing for a test session at the Paul Ricard circuit ahead of the FIA GT season which starts next month at Silverstone.