10 May, 2010
Rob Bell returned to the track for the second round of the 2010 Le Mans Series at Spa Francorchamps with JMW Motorsport, driving with fellow Brit, Darren Turner, in the Dunlop shod Aston Martin Vantage GT2 race car. The team showed strong pace during practice but were unable to convert this into racing success after a stuck throttle put Bell into the barriers in the latter stages of the race.
The high of the weekend for Bell was topping the GT2 timesheets in the second practice session, giving him confidence for the race ahead. However Turner was less fortunate, with the JMW car suffering a technical issue in the final practice just prior to him putting on new tyres for a qualifying run simulation. This left Turner without any experience of a new tyre run for his first qualifying session in the JMW Aston Martin and he did well to post 10th fastest time.
Turner took the first stint behind the wheel at the Belgian track, improving to seventh place during the course of his drive, but dropping back after a sticking throttle pushed him off track. Turner continued on, battling not only with car problems but with the bizarre situation of the race being red flagged due to a power cut, which left the circuit without a timing system.
Bell took over the driving duties from Turner as the race settled down, turning good lap times and enjoying the challenge of the Spa track, but the earlier throttle issues returned and with the throttle stuck open Bell was also pushed off track and into the barriers at turn 8. Bell was able to limp back to the JMW garage and the crew set to work to make repairs. Although the team’s Spa race was over, they were able to get back out and use the remainder of the race time as a test session for the Aston Martin Vantage.
“It was an encouraging race weekend for us”, said Bell, “particularly in the early sessions when we could demonstrate the pace we have and use the development parts to our advantage. It was just small, niggly, issues that put paid to our hopes in the race. These are things which are difficult, if not impossible to predict, and it was a blow to us that we suffered in the race, as there was no shortage of effort from anyone in the team, from Aston Martin or Dunlop.”
Bell and the JMW Motorsport team now turn their attention to the famed Le Mans 24 Hours race in five weeks time. The Newcastle born driver will be contesting this blue riband event for the fourth time in his career.