11 May, 2009
Rob Bell, one of Britain’s leading sportscar drivers, finished second with team mate Gianmaria Bruni in the second round of the Le Mans Series at Spa, Belgium, today. Driving the JMW Motorsport Ferrari 430 GT in the GT2 class, the duo led the way at the four hour mark, but after a wheel problem, they finally finished third on the track. With the disqualification of the winning GT2 Porsche post-race, the team were promoted to second place.
The weekend started with Friday practice sessions for JMW in which Bruni and Bell finished third fastest of the GT2 entries in the first one and second quickest in the second. In Saturday qualifying the JMW team posted fourth quickest time and with the rival Ferrari of Team Modena relegated to the back of the grid for a technical infringement, JMW started third in class.
Bruni was behind the wheel for the first stint of the six hour race and maintained position at the start, with a safety car deployed on the opening lap for a stricken car slowing down the field. Bell moves up to second place in his stint, five seconds off the class leading Porsche. Handing back to Bruni, the team moved into the lead of the class when the Porsche had to make a stop for a puncture. As the clock counted down the JMW team were set for a class win, however their fortunes were quickly reversed when Bruni had a wheel problem and with an unscheduled pitstop the team dropped to third place. In the remainder of the race the team pushed hard to recover, but were too far back to improve position, finally crossing the line in third place.
Bell said after the race, “It wasn’t the result we thought we’d be able to get today. We had it in our grasp but then it just slipped away from us. It wasn’t an easy race with quite a few safety car periods upsetting our rhythm, but we showed we can take the fight to the Porsches. I guess I should be happy with a podium finish, but when you’re so close to being on the top step it’s inevitable that the pleasure of it is tinged with a little disappointment. Inheriting second place was a small bonus for us, which we’ll gladly take, especially as it keeps us at the top of the tables.”
The JMW Motorsport team leads the GT2 Class of the Le Mans Series overall standings, with Bell also leading the drivers’ championship. Bell will return to racing action with the JMW Motorsport team at the famed Le Mans 24 Hours race. Prior to this Bell will focus on his FIA GT campaign, travelling to Adria, Italy next week for the second round of that championship.