10 May, 2016
McLaren GT Factory Driver Rob Bell took the overall lead in the Blancpain GT Series Drivers Championship after finishing fourth in the Blancpain Sprint Series Main Race at Brands Hatch this weekend. Driving the Garage 59 team’s #58 McLaren 650S GT3, with fellow McLaren GT Factory Driver Alvaro Parente, Bell continued his impressive start to the 2016 Blancpain GT Series season which has seen him take a win and a top ten finish in the other three races so far.
The famous Brands Hatch circuit played host to the second round of the 2016 Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup with Rob and Alvaro finishing eighth in the qualifying race and fourth in the main race. The two strong points finishes, along with his previous results this season has put Rob in an early lead of the Drivers Championship.
The duo qualified the #58 650S GT3 sixth for the qualifying race and Alvaro took the start on the third row yesterday in bright, unusually hot conditions. In the scramble to the first corner with a strong field of 37 cars, the #58 car improved to fifth place. On the tight, tricky Kent circuit Alvaro held position through to the end of his stint and handed the car over to Rob. Rob maintained the pace but had dropped to eighth after the pitstops, crossing the line in this position.
The main race, later in the afternoon, produced more action-packed racing. Rob took the start for this race and made his way through to sixth place in the early stages and then improving to fifth place by the end of his stint. Handing over to Alvaro, the #58 car maintained fifth place, with a safety car just 20 minutes before the end, bunching up the field. When the green flag flew for the return to full speed racing Alvaro took fourth place. He attached hard to try for a podium spot, but was unable to make a clean pass and took the chequered flag in fourth place.
Rob said after the weekend, “Two top ten finishes was a solid result for the new Garage 59 team and the #58 car, although there’s definitely more to come from the car and this track probably didn’t suit the car as much as some others in the series. For me, it’s great to be at the top of the leaderboard, but it’s very early days in the championships and there’s a long way to go, so I’m not going to get too excited yet. The Sprint and Endurance series are both very competitive and we’ve seen quite a few different winners and a mix of cars on the podiums, so I’m just focusing on each round and then we’ll see where we are at the end.”
Rob will be back on track next weekend, with the second round of the Blancpain Endurance Series, being held at Silverstone circuit.