17 April, 2016
Matt Bell finishes the 4 Hours of Silverstone in second place on his LMP3 debut
Matt Bell took a stunning second place in the opening round of the European Le Mans Series at Silverstone yesterday. Racing the No.3 United Autosports Ligier-Nissan with Mark Patterson and Wayne Boyd, Bell had a storming run in difficult conditions.
Saturday morning’s qualifying session was tough on all of the European Le Mans Series competitors as it followed a rather surprising snowstorm at Silverstone. Despite the slippery track Bell qualified in fifth place, just four thousandths of a second shy of Alex Brundle in fourth.
“The conditions were pretty bad for qualifying,” said Bell. “There was a spinner in front of me on my first flyer, traffic on the second and then I did the time on my third flyer.”
Bell was at the wheel for the start of the four-hour race and he did a great job of avoiding the drama that occurred on lap one when an LMP2 car crashed at the start.
“I knew the start was going to be tricky as on the warm up lap I tried to put the power down on the straight and my wheels just spun,” explained Bell. “It was so cold that we had all lost the heat from our tyres. There was very little grip at the start so I was looking out for drama, avoided it and made it up to P3 by the end of the lap.”
He went on to make up another position over the next few laps and brought the car home at the end of his stint in second place to hand over to Mark Patterson.
A few laps into Patterson’s run the door came open so he had to make an additional stop. It looked like this would put the No.3 car on the back foot but when everyone stopped for a ‘splash and dash’ at the end of the race the No.3 car had already done it so everything leveled out in the end.
A good run by Patterson ended when he handed over to Wayne Boyd for the run to the flag. The British driver got his head down and made it all the way up to second place. Any thoughts of challenging for the lead fell by the wayside when a full course yellow was thrown in the closing laps but the No.3 car crossed the line in second place, sealing a glorious 1-2 finish for United Autosports.
“On a personal note it was great to finish my debut prototype race on the podium,” said Bell. “What a fantastic ELMS debut for United Autosports, taking a 1-2 finish. This is top level sportscar racing so for the team to come in and take a 1-2 in its first event is incredible. We’ve got targets on our backs now so we will have to stay sharp. It’s going to be a great season!”
Round two of the European Le Mans Series takes place at Imola in Italy on 15 May.