11 October, 2013
McLaren factory driver Rob Bell is heading to the USA next week for his fourth appearance in the Cheap Bell & Ross Replica prestigious Petit Le Mans race at the Road Atlanta circuit, driving for Extreme Speed Motorsports (ESM).
Rob previously raced with the team two years ago, when he competed in the 12 Hours of Sebring and Petit Le Mans in a GT-Class Ferrari. This time he’ll be piloting one of the team’s Honda Performance Development ARX-O3b sportscars in the LMP2 class of the American Le Mans Series finale on October 19th.
Driving alongside ESM’s regular drivers, Ed Brown and Johannes van Overbeek, Rob is hoping to conquer this challenging endurance event. The 10 hour, 1000 mile, Petit Le Mans race has established itself as one of the premier races on the international sportscar racing calendar, alongside Le Mans 24 Hour race and the Sebring 12 Hours race.
Bell competed at Petit Le Mans for the first time in 2009, behind the wheel of the Drayson Racing LMP1 Lola. His second appearance at the venue was with Robertson Racing driving a Ford GT in the GT2 category of the race, with an eighth place finish that time. He returned for a third attempt at winning this gruelling race in 2011 with EXM, driving a Ferrari and finishing 10th in class.
Rob says of his return to Petit Le Mans, “It’ll be good to finish my season with another of the blue riband sportscar endurance races and to be behind the wheel of an LMP2 category car is an exciting opportunity. It’s good to be returning to a familiar team and having driven with ESM a couple of years ago I know they are capable of a race-winning performance.
“I’m obviously more familiar with GT2 machinery, but I have experience of the prototypes and there’s no real difference, mainly a higher grip level, which isn’t difficult to adapt to, and after a handful of laps I’ll be up to speed with the car’s handling. It’s always good to drive a wide variety of cars and I have high expectation for this weekend with ESM, they’re a great team.”
The 1,000-mile/10-hour race is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. ET on Saturday, Oct 19.