18 May, 2016
McLaren GT factory driver, Rob Bell, finished sixth at Silverstone this weekend racing in the 2016 Blancpain Endurance Series. Contesting a McLaren 650S GT3 with the new Garage 59 team alongside team mates Come Ledogar and Shane van Gisbergen, it was a solid top ten finish at the British round of the championship.
With a 53-car grid, every session featured a busy track and highly competitive running. After the three qualifying sessions, one for each driver, the quickest time placed the #58 car 12th on the grid for the start of the race.
Rob was selected to start the race and in the thick of the action down to the first corner emerged in 11th place. Pushing hard all the way Rob moved up to 10th after four laps and then ninth after a further five laps. Pitting from eighth place to hand over to Come, the #58 McLaren maintained position once all the pitstops had been completed. As the Frenchman neared the end of his stint he made up another place to hand the car over in seventh. Shane took over the wheel for the final hour and ran strong as the race neared its conclusion. With just two laps left the New Zealander a late pass on the #26 Audi elevated the #58 McLaren to sixth place.
Rob said of the second round, “It was a solid weekend’s racing, but we didn’t have the level of pace we showed at Monza where we took the win. With three highly experienced drivers in the car we do extract every last bit of performance out of it, but that wasn’t enough at Silverstone. Perhaps it was the circuit that didn’t suit the car so well or the Balance of Performance adjustments that disadvantaged us, but whatever the reason, we just couldn’t match the pace of the podium cars.”
“On the plus side, we had great reliability and good pitstops,” adds Rob. “The team is quickly getting up to speed after only a handful of races and everyone is really gelling well. Every time you go out and race you learn more about the car, the best set up and strategies, so we’ll keep pushing and look to be back out at Paul Ricard with a competitive package.”
Rob will be back out on the race track in two weeks time with a home race, the third round of the British GT championship at Oulton Park, a track just 35 miles from Rob’s base close to Wigan.