13 April, 2010
British sportscar driver, Rob Bell, raced the JMW Motorsport Aston Martin GT2 car for the first time last weekend at the opening round of the 2010 Le Mans Series, held at the Paul Ricard circuit in France. Although the team was not able to complete the race after being sidelined with technical problems, Bell took many positives from the event and remains confident that the team will quickly improve this season.
The weekend began with strong practice and qualifying sessions, with Bell sharing the car with his team mate, Darren Turner. The two experienced racers were quickly on the pace of their main rivals, and Bell qualified the JMW Aston Martin GT2 in fifth place for the start of the eight hour endurance race.
Bell took the start of the race and showed his prowess with impressive driving off the line to lie second in class by the end of the opening lap. A group of eight cars were matching each other for pace and fighting hard for position, with Bell in the thick of the action. The JMW driver was unfortunate to lose out in this battle after being pushed wide by a rival GT2 car, dropping Bell to seventh place. Bell continued on and remained in the hunt, steadily making up ground to lie in sixth place. With the pace steadying and the race settling, Bell was making good progress, before having to pit after losing drive. A fuel pump issue was diagnosed and the team knew that they were out of the race for a points classification, but the mechanics quickly set to work to fix the problem so that the team could return to the track. After sterling work from the JMW crew the Aston Martin was back out on track with team mate Turner behind the wheel, before he handed the car back to Bell. Both drivers showed the car’s potential with low lap times which matched those of the leading GT2 class contenders, but a further fuel pump problem then prematurely ended the race for the team.
Bell said of the weekend, “We can take away many positives from the weekend, particularly in relation to the pace we had in the car. It was disappointing to have the fuel pump problem during the race as it had not shown itself in testing, it’s just one of those things that happen in racing.
“The level of competition is phenomenal and it was very pleasing to be mixing it with everyone and running on a par with them. I’m just looking forward to being back out again at the next round.”
Next week Bell heads to Hungary with JMW Motorsport, with a two day tyre testing programme with Dunlop, prior to the second round of the Le Mans Series to be held at Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, from 7-9 May.