16 October, 2014
Rob Bell rejoined Clearwater Racing last weekend for the penultimate rounds of the 2014 GT Asia Series held at Shanghai International Circuit in China. It proved to be an event full of challenges. A huge accident for Rob’s team mate Hiroshi Hamaguchi driving the team’s McLaren MP4-12C forced the team to loan another model from a rival team to be able to compete and with this car, the duo produced fifth and sixth place finishes. Rob and Hiroshi now lie second in the Drivers’ Championship with one round remaining.
Rob has been racing alongside Hiroshi for each round of the GT Asia Series this season, with the pairing consistently on the podium, posting two third place finishes, three second places and a win so far.
The weekend began with practice sessions and it was in the second of these that Hiroshi had a heavy impact with the concrete barriers after running wide and sliding off track and then spinning into the safety barriers, which damaged the Clearwater Racing McLaren MP4-12C beyond repair, and luckily, saw Hiroshi walk away uninjured.
It was a rival team, AAI from Taiwan, which came to the rescue of Clearwater Racing, providing Hiroshi and Rob with a replacement McLaren for qualifying and the races, although just substituting a car was not a simple task, with every other team in the field having to agree to the change.
After frantic work by the Clearwater Racing crew to prepare the car for qualifying Rob was able to get behind the wheel for the first of these sessions, however further drama unfolded, with Rob forced to retire from qualifying with suspension damage after contact with a slower car.
Despite all the team’s setbacks, Rob and Hiroshi put in a strong performance in the two races. A misfire in the second race hampered the McLaren, but ultimately, two top ten finishes was a great recovery from all the challenges thrown at the team during the weekend.
Rob said of his Shanghai outing, “It was one of those racing weekends which threw everything at us and against all odds, we salvaged strong championship points and kept the team in the running for the title. After Hiroshi’s accidents we thought we were done for the weekend, but such is the camaraderie and respect for Clearwater Racing and Hiroshi, the paddock rallied round and helped to get us back out on track.”
Rob reflects on his season, adding, “It’s been a great season of racing and I’d like to to thank Clearwater Racing for giving me the opportunity to drive in such a competitive, professional, Series with an excellent crew. I wish Hiroshi well in the final race at Macau and hope we’ll be sharing another car in the future.”