07 May, 2013
Rob Bell was back out on track this weekend, driving with Aston Martin Racing at the second round of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), the six hours of Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium. Sharing one of the team’s Gulf-liveried Vantage GTE cars with Bruno Senna and Fred Makowiecki, Bell put in a strong performance and played a central role in bringing the team a second place class finish.
The car was on class pole for the race and Bell was selected to drive the opening stint. It was a tight battle for Bell with a rival Ferrari 458, with the Ferrari taking the lead before Bell was able to regain it towards the end of the first hour. A few laps later a car spinning off track brought out the safety car, just at the time of the first round of pitstops for the GTE cars.
After the stops and the untimely safety car period, it was Ferrari back in the lead with Bell dropping down to fourth, although one of the Ferraris ahead was later penalised for overtaking under the safety car, putting the Aston Martin Vantage up to third place.
As Bell handed over the car to Senna, the team were back up to second place. Fighting with the hard-charging Ferraris it was a battle for podium spots and after six hours of racing the No. 98 Aston Martin Vantage GTE finally crossed the line in second place, just one second ahead of the chasing Ferrari.
Bell said of the weekend, “It’s great to have been on the podium in my first race with Aston Martin Racing and everyone worked really hard to achieve that. It’s just a shame about the safety car coming out when it did, as without that we might have been in with a chance of the win.”
Bell’s appearance in the WEC race weekend was planned in preparation for the Le Mans 24 Hours race, as the British sportscar driver, will be campaigning this prestigious event with the team next month.
Bell says, “Racing at Spa with Aston Martin Racing was a great opportunity for me to get to know everyone and to build a relationship with my team mates, Bruno and Fred. We gelled really well over the course of the event and I’m looking forward to be backing with them at the Le Mans test day on 9th June and for the race itself a couple of weeks later.“
Prior to his Le Mans 24 Hours race commitments Bell will return to his regular team and car, racing with Gulf Racing in the team’s McLaren MP4-12C GT car for the next round of the Blancpain Endurance Series, which will be held at Silverstone on 1st-2nd June.