13 September, 2010
It was a fitting finale to Rob Bell’s 2010 Le Mans Series campaign at Silverstone this weekend, with Bell, team mate Darren Turner and the JMW Motorsport team celebrating their first pole position of the season with their Aston Martin Vantage GT2 car and finishing on the podium for the first time this year, crossing the line third in the final event of the five-race series.
The weekend began well for the team with the car running on the pace in the early practice sessions. Bell turned this preparation into a pole position in qualifying, the first ever class pole for the Aston Martin GT2 contender. “It came together for us in qualifying,” said Bell. “Dunlop have really pushed hard with the tyres and they came in early, while I put together a good lap, and this just produced the quickest time of the GT2 cars. It felt good to be up there, taking the fight to the Porsches and the Ferraris.”
Bell started the race yesterday and retained the lead of the class for his stint, until pitting for fuel, tyres and a driver change. Turner took over the driving duties and continued to lead the way, but with the Aston Martin drinking a little more fuel than its rivals, it soon became clear that the JMW Motorsport entry would need to build up a lead of around 40 seconds to enable a ‘splash and dash’ while staying ahead to take the win.
The two drivers put all their efforts into turning quick laps, despite the intense traffic on track and were able to pull out a 13 seconds lead at half distance. However as the race reached the closing stages a ‘stop-go’ penalty for an infringement put paid to the team’s chances of an outright win and the goal was a podium finish. A strong team effort ensured the Aston Martin kept ahead of the fourth placed car to cross the line in third place, the team’s best result of the season.
“It was always going to be a tall order to take the win,” said Bell, “as we knew our car was a bit thirstier than our main competitors. But to take the podium was a great result for us and thoroughly deserved by the team. Our crew gave us great pitstops, around 4 to 5 seconds quicker than others, and that kept us in the hunt for the silverware. Our tyres lasted really well and that helped us to keep the pressure on the Ferraris, so although we don’t have the same outright speed, over the course of a stint, we were very evenly matched. Finishing on a high like this is a great end to the Le Mans Series season.”
Bell now turns his attention to Petit Le Mans and his race outing with Robertson Racing in a Ford GT for this event, one of the highlights of the international sports racing calendar. He heads to USA in less than two weeks, preparing for his drive with two days of testing ahead of the 10 hour, 1000 mile race at Road Atlanta.