13 October, 2015
McLaren GT factory driver, Rob Bell, returned to the cockpit this weekend, racing in the opening round of the 2015/16 Asian Le Mans Series and taking class victory in a highly competitive race in Fuji. Rob has re-joined Clearwater Racing, having raced with the team last season. Driving the team’s McLaren 650S GT3 car, alongside Singaporean driver Mok Weng Sun and Japanese racer, Keita Sawa, Rob and his team mates had an outstanding weekend, conquering the Japanese circuit to take the first spoils of the 2015 championship.
The first outing on to the Fuji track for Friday practice was a strong start, with dry, warm conditions providing the perfect weather for the first session of the weekend. The Clearwater Racing ran well in the hands of Rob, with the popular Brit finishing the session quickest of the GT class. In the second practice session Rob showed his speed clocking fastest lap towards the end of the session, nearly a second clear of the nearest GT rival.
Rob was in the car for qualifying and proved his experience with the car and mastery of the track when he put in a blistering lap to take class pole and en route beating the prototypes, by setting the fastest first sector time overall, a great effort putting the team fourth fastest overall for a second row grid slot.
The start of the two hour race at Fuji International Speedway produced plenty of gripping action with the Clearwater McLaren 650S GT3 keeping ahead of the opposition until the first of the two compulsory 75 seconds pit stop. The car ran faultlessly in the middle sector, with Rob taking over the wheel for the final stint. A spirited drive saw the highly accomplished driver put the car in the lead once all the pitstops had been completed. On his way to taking the chequered flag first in class Rob passed the LMP3 leader, eventually finishing second on the road to take a place on the second step of the overall podium as well as the top step of the GT Class podium.
Rob said of the weekend, “It was a fantastic effort by Clearwater Racing this weekend. The car has been uprated from the 12C and work was only finished on Thursday, so to be the fastest GT on track every session is a great result and is a well-deserved reward for the team’s hard work.
“It was the first time the car had run on Michelins and as we’ll be using these all season we focused on these, trying to learn as much as possible ready for the six hour races which are part of the championship.”
Rob will return to the Asian Le Mans Series with Clearwater Racing next month, with the second round taking place at Sepang circuit in Malaysia on the weekend of 7th/8th November.