06 May, 2009
Rob Bell kick started his season in the FIA GT Championship over the weekend at the historic Silverstone Circuit in Northamptonshire. The Newcastle born GT ace, driving the CRS Racing Ferrari F430 GT2 alongside Andrew Kirkaldy, finished the race on the podium after fighting through from fifth on the grid. The duo now lies third in the championship on six points.
At the start of the race weekend Bell and the team found they were lacking in grip and did not have the balance in the car that they wanted. However the team worked hard to improve its handling and were soon upping the pace. After qualifying fifth on the grid for the race, the team continued to focus on set up on the car and with the sweet spot in reaching point before the race, the no.56 car posted the fastest time during the morning warm up session.
The race was solid and consistent for Bell, who moved up the field and pitted from third place to hand over to Kirkaldy. The team made a great pitstop, and returned the car to the track just as the safety car came out. Unfortunately the safety car split the field and caused a delay to the No.56 car’s progress, but this wasn’t stopping CRS Racing. After setting the fastest lap in the race, the team brought the car home third at the chequered flag.
Bell commented, “In preseason testing we had found a good balance for the car and had the grip; we were happy with how the car was performing. But when we went got to Silverstone the car felt totally different so we were back to square one, though it seemed like everyone was having a similar problem not just us.
“Ultimately we finished on the podium and the car was good. I had a good start, but the extra ballast we are carrying seemed to cause a drop off in performance midway through. The Porsche had a good race and we will have to watch out for them for the rest of the season. It is a good solid start to our campaign. It was only the first race of the year, so we definitely have something to build on from here.”
Bell now travels to the historic Spa Francorchamps circuit in Belgium for the second round of the Le Mans Series this weekend. Bell will rejoin the JMW motorsport team for the second LMS race of the year, as they hope to build on the podium result at the opening round.