Rob Bell Kicks Off 2015 Season with the First Round of the Blancpain Sprint Series
Friday 10th April 2015
The weekend began with an official photograph with all the marques competing in the Blancpain Sprint Series represented. The Nogaro bullring was an appropriate dramatic setting for the event that preceded the first on-track fight for race wins and championship honours.
The opening practice session saw the No.55 McLaren of Rob and Kevin in sixth place, behind five Audis, a great effort by the talented duo. The German marque continued to dominate in the second session, although the McLaren 650 S GT3 was once again close on their heels with eighth quickest lap.
The close qualifying session was a tough challenge for the Attempto Racing team, with 10 cars within the same second demonstrating how competitive the series is. Rob and Kevin put the car eighth fastest in the first qualifying session, but were only able to manage 13th fastest lap in the second session, so were not able to go through to the final session to set the top ten on the grid.
The Qualifying Race, the opening event of the 2015 Blancpain Sprint Series, was the racing debut for Attempto Racing with the McLaren and lining up in 13th place, the team were ready for the battle ahead. The team were out of luck though right at the start when Kevin was the innocent victim of an incident at the second corner, and with nowhere to go suffered extensive bodywork damage from spinning cars ahead.
The Frenchman carried on and was able to start making up ground, handing over the car to Rob from fifth place. After the round of driver change pitstops Rob was lying sixth and over the course of his stint climbed into a podium positin, lying third with four laps to go. An unfortunate technical issue caused loss of drive for the car, dropping the No.55 McLaren down the order to a 12th place finish.
The main race was another tough one for the Attempto Racing team. With brilliant sunshine and packed grandstands the race gave the spectators plenty of action. The morning warm up had seen Rob and Kevin post fifth fastest time, buoying the team for the main event. Starting from 12th on the grid it was always going to be a challenge to reach the top ten and after 41 laps of racing it was a 13th place finish for the Attempto Racing McLaren 650S GT3.
Rob said of the weekend, “It was a tough debut for the McLaren 650S this weekend. We showed we had the potential to have a strong pace, although we just couldn’t take the fight to the Audis this time. As a first outing I think we can be satisfied with the performance and we learned a lot from the weekend. It was really unfortunate that Kevin got caught up with the accident in the first race, but we recovered well and looked on course for a podium result. However, our luck ran out with four laps to go, which was disappointing. However, we did have good race pace in the first race, which is heartening. Despite showing promise in the warm up for the second race we just didn’t manage to translate it into race pace. There’s lots to work on before the next race, but I know we’ll be back out fighting again at the next round.”
Rob moves on to Monza in Italy for the first round of the Blancpain Endurance Series next weekend, with the McLaren GT factory driver racing with Von Ryan Racing in this championship.