19 July, 2016
Despite good pace and a great team behind him, Matt Bell had to settle for a disappointing 14th place at the ‘4 Hours of Red Bull Ring’ last weekend. The British racer was looking forward to having a good race in Austria but contact in the opening laps for his team-mate put paid to any podium chances for the #3 United Autosports Ligier-Nissan.
Mark Patterson started the race from second place and had a great getaway. He took the lead on the opening lap but was forced to relinquish it later. He was running well in third place on lap three when he was hit hard from behind by another car, which caused a piece of bodywork to puncture his right rear tyre.
Unfortunately the contact happened at turn one so Patterson had to complete a full lap with a wounded car before he could pit for fresh rubber.
“The contact happened at the worst possible place,” commented Bell. “Mark pitted and quickly rejoined but we then got called in as some more bodywork had come loose as a result of the earlier collision. The repairs put us back around five laps. Through no fault of our own we were put out of contention, with no chance of a decent result.”
Once Patterson had completed the two stints required of ‘Bronze’ drivers, Bell jumped in for his run.
“I was at the back of the LMP3 order but I managed to recover three or four laps during my run,” explained Bell. “The race was mental with a lot of contact going on but we were able to maintain good pace.”
After Bell’s stint, Wayne Boyd took the car to the flag, crossing the line in 14th place.
“Going into the weekend we needed a smooth run in order to make ourselves series contenders,” said Bell. “That’s not what we got so all we can do now is hope for a clean run at Paul Ricard next month. Our pit stops were perfect today and the car had good pace. It was just that early race contact that did it for us.”
The next round of the European Le Mans Series takes place at the Paul Ricard Circuit in France on 28 August.