11 May, 2015
McLaren GT factory driver, Rob Bell, celebrated a podium finish in this weekend’s Blancpain Sprint Series round at Brands Hatch in Kent. Driving an Attempto Racing McLaren 650S GT3 with fellow factory driver, Kevin Estre, the duo put in a superb performance for a third place finish in the main race and fifth place in the qualifying race.
The weekend began with two free practice sessions and the team used this time to develop the car’s set up for the demands of the popular British circuit. Finishing 14th in the first, incident packed session, Rob and Kevin were able to make significant improvements to finish 5th fastest after the second session.
The first of the qualifying sessions was an opportunity to put the team’s hard work into practice and after a highly competitive session, the Attempto Racing McLaren 650S GT3 No. 55 car took provisional pole. Finishing ninth quickest in the top 10 shootout, the team were placed on the fifth row of the grid for the start of the qualifying race.
Rob and Kevin both put in strong performances on the technically challenging GP Loop layout of the Brands Hatch track and by the closing stages were in the thick of a battle for the top five spots, finally crossing the finish line in fifth, to take this position for the start of the main race.
Kevin started the race, quickly taking fourth place and then hounding the fourth placed BMW of Sergio Jimenez for lap after lap, until he made a bold move on the inside of Graham Hill bend to move into a podium position, lying third. The next car in his sight was the BMW of Atila Abreu and after another tough fight, Kevin was up into second just a couple of laps before handing over to Rob.
The pitstop wasn’t as quick as others, dropping the car to third by the time Rob rejoined the track. With the second placed Team Brazil a distance down the road Rob set off to make up ground, but with just over 20 laps, he was unable to close down enough to move up, finishing just four seconds behind in third.
Bell said after the race, “It’s great to have finished on the podium this weekend, after such a tough start to the season in Nogaro where we just didn’t have the pace needed to take the fight to the front-runners. This time we had the package to be right up there and we were very competitive in the race.”
“We didn’t have the best of pitstops,” adds Bell, “so we weren’t able to capitalize on Kevin’s efforts in the first part of the race, but the team has limited experience and we know that this will come together as we progress into the season. Overall though, it was a very positive weekend with a solid performance from the McLaren 650S GT3 and lots of potential for the races to come.”
Rob will be back in action with a McLaren 650S GT3 at Silverstone in two weeks time, this time driving with Von Ryan Racing in the Blancpain Endurance Series.