15 September, 2008
Rob Bell was crowned Le Mans Series GT2 champion at Silverstone this weekend. The top British sportscar driver sealed the Drivers Championship with a superb win, and his team, Virgo Motorsport, clinched the Team title with this victory.
Newcastle-born Bell dominated his home race in spectacular style, by taking pole position, fastest lap, class victory, and the drivers championship in the GT2 category. Driving for the Virgo Motorsports team alongside team mate Jamie Melo the pair took a lights to flag victory in the Ferrari F430 car during Sunday’s race, handing Bell and Virgo their second consecutive titles in the Le Mans Series.
Friday practice sessions took place under changeable conditions, however the morning session was dry and bright, which favours the Virgo Ferrari, where they set the fastest time in GT2, however they struggled in the wet and damp afternoon session, the car not suiting the green conditions of the track. The following day the sun shone on the 5km Northamptonshire circuit, a good omen for the days qualifying session, where Bell duly performed, placing the car on pole in the GT2 class for the Autosport 1000km of Silverstone.
A healthy British crowd welcomed the start of the Silverstone LMS race. Rob Bell took the wheel for the opening stint but endured a tough time as he worked hard to keep the chasing Porsches behind him. The championship contenders were closely matched on speed, however the Dunlop tyres on Bell’s Virgo Ferrari gave them the edge as they lasted better during the race stints, handing them an advantage over their rivals. As the sun continued to shine at Silverstone, Virgo, Melo and Bell successfully completed the race trouble free, and after setting the fastest lap in the dying seconds, Bell took victory in front of the home crowd.
Bell commented on the race, “It’s a great feeling to have won the race and the Championship here this weekend, the team did a fantastic job with the pitstops, and we definitely had the best tyres with Dunlop. The team owner of Virgo Motorsport, Jim McWhirter is determined, committed and focused, which drives on the whole team to succeed. I’d like to thank him and the team for all of their efforts this year, it’s been great to work with them.
“It is a different feeling winning the championship for the second time, there is a realisation of all your hard work because you are under more pressure to retain the title. Everyone else is aiming to beat you, so it’s a relief that we were able to maintain our dominance and keep our titles. My feet are now firmly back on the ground though, after two great days of racing I have to turn my focus to the remaining FIA GT races on the calendar, it’s not the end of the season yet for me, as I head to Nogaro for the next race in a few weeks time.”