17 December, 2013
McLaren factory driver, Rob Bell, signed off his 2013 racing season with a strong fifth place finish at the third running of the Gulf 12 Hours race at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi this weekend. Rob drove alongside team owner, Mike Wainwright and Northern Irishman, Adam Carroll in the No.9 McLaren MP4-12C GT3 race car for the popular middle eastern endurance event.
Rob, fresh from a double podium in the Baku Challenge, had a strong run in the Gulf Racing MP4-12C GT3 racer. The weekend began with a two hour practice session on the long, 5.5 km, Abu Dhabi circuit, with a top ten lap time resulting for the No.9 car.
The second, 80 minutes practice session was problem-free for Rob and his team mates, with the No.9 car improving on the initial practice to claim seventh fastest time of the session. In the final practice session, the No.9 entry was just outside the top ten in eleventh spot. With the grid positions set from an average of the best lap time from each driver, the team started the race from eleventh on the grid.
The Gulf 12 Hours has a unique format with the race split into two six-hour segments. After smooth running for six hours, the No.9 car finished in fifth place, the leading McLaren in the race. Racing resumed with the team in fifth place and after another six hours of running, they crossed the line in this position, the best McLaren finisher in the field.
Rob said after the race, “It was a really enjoyable race. I really like the circuit; it suits my driving style, with long straights and a smooth flowing track which is very satisfying to drive. We had a good weekend, with the car running really well, the teamwork very strong and my team mates and I all worked well together.
Mike had an excellent race, especially as he hadn’t raced since the Spa round of the Blancpain Endurance Series, and it was good to be back in the car with him and Adam. We had a fairly quiet race without any particular dramas. I felt the car had good pace and just love racing at this track. It was a great way to finish the season.”
Rob now turns his attentions to next year and expects to be returning to the racetrack early in the New Year.