13 March, 2013
Works McLaren GT driver Rob Bell will stand in for fellow factory McLaren GT driver, Alvaro Parente, at the opening round of the 2013 Avon Tyres British GT Championship at Oulton Park in just over a fortnight.
Bell will deputise for Parente who is racing in another SRO series at the Nogaro circuit in France. It will be the first time Rob will race in the GT3 category of British GT and he will share the #23 McLaren MP4-12C GT3 with Zak Brown, the United Autosports team owner.
The move rekindles a previously successful relaationship between Rob and the United Autosports team boss, Richard Dean. The pair worked together in 1997 with Team JLR in the highly competitive Vauxhall Junior Championship where Rob was a race winner and regular challenger. In fact, Rob was close to clinching the championship in his first year, but was foiled by eventual champion and future DTM star Gary Paffett in the last round. Rob and Richard were also team mates at Le Mans in 2007.
Rob has previously driven for Ferrari, Aston Martin and Porsche competing in all the major sportscar series including the European and American Le Mans Series, FIA GT, the Le Mans 24 Hours, Daytona 24, Sebring 12 Hours and Petit Le Mans - interestingly the British GT opener over Easter will be the first time he's raced at Oulton Park in 11 years.
He says of his British GT outing, “Oulton Park promises to be a great weekend. I’ll be reunited with Richard (Dean) who I haven’t worked with for many years and going to a track which I haven’t raced on for over a decade, but the focus for me will be on putting in the best performance possible for Zak and the United Autosports team. As with everyone on the team, I’ll be out there for the win and I hope I can help to bring them success in the season-opener.”
Rob will be competing against his younger brother Matt (Bell), now a fellow 'Pro' at the Anglo-American team. Matt will share driving duties with Mark Patterson in the Audi R8 LMS Ultra and ex-McLaren F1 star, Mark Blundell and Richard Meins will be in the second McLaren MP4-12C GT3.
Thirty plus cars are expected to take to the grid for Oulton Park, including thirteen different models of car from ten of the top GT3 manufacturers in the world.
The 2013 series will be shown on major broadcaster Channel 4 television in the UK with highlights of each event being broadcast on Motors TV in the UK and Europe.
Here's Rob talking about the news of him joining the United Autosports team and his thoughts on the weekend ahead of him.