20 January, 2012
Rob Bell has been announced as the lead driver for Gulf Racing, the UK-based GT racing team owned by Roald Goethe and Michael Wainwright, will be entering two McLaren MP4-12C GT3 cars in the 2012 Blancpain Endurance Series. Running in the iconic Gulf Oil International colours, the team's driver line-up will be spearheaded by recently-announced McLaren GT works driver and double Le Mans Series GT Champion, Rob Bell, who will be backed up by fellow professional driver, Stuart Hall, and the two team principals.
One of the first teams to reveal last August that it had been selected by McLaren GT to champion its exciting new-generation GT3 cars, Gulf Racing will be continuing with the same race management team as 2011 under the direction of David Price. Overseen by the highly respected Briton in the GTE-Am category of the 2011 Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, Wainwright believes that entry to the Blancpain Endurance Series is the perfect fit for the team for the coming season.
"First of all I want to say how much Roald and I are both looking forward to 2012,"says the Swiss-based British driver, who will be paired with Newcastle-born Rob Bell, "not least because of the involvement of Rob and Stuart Hall, which we feel will give us a competitive edge and valuable tutelage at the same time. Roald and I both have to fit our racing around our business commitments and we feel the Blancpain calendar and venues are better suited to us than the World Endurance Championship. It's a well-run, very well-supported series and the racing in 2011 was some of the best in Europe; we can't wait to be part of it."
Bell says of his signing with Gulf Racing, "Driving for Gulf Racing is going to be an exciting challenge for 2012. The team is highly professional and with a brace of new McLaren MP4-12C GT3s will, I'm sure, be a force to be reckoned with in the Blancpain Endurance Series. Roald and Michael have made me very welcome at Gulf Racing and I'm looking forward to being involved with the development of the team's car and working with the team to realise its potential."
Roald Goethe, who has long been associated with Gulf Oil International through his ROFGO collection of Gulf-liveried historic race cars, will be competing alongside former Aston Martin Racing driver, Stuart Hall. The pairing, together with Wainwright, took part in last weekend's Dubai 24 Hours as part of their preparations for the 2012 Blancpain season. The German-born GT driver is enthusiastic about the addition of the McLaren MP4-12C GT3 cars to the team's growing stable of GT machinery.
Roald Goethe: "We have watched with interest the development to date of the new McLaren and are convinced it's the right car for us. It promises to be high quality, reliable and drivable and it should allow us to enjoy our racing to the full. Having a Works Driver on our team, who has already been involved in a lot of this year's testing, is an exciting development and I'm sure will be a great advantage to us."
Commenting on plans for the team's Aston Martin Vantage, Roald continued, "We still have the Aston Martin and it's likely that we will run in a few individual races in, for example, the European Le Mans Series or maybe even the WEC, but it depends very much on budgets and personal time commitments. We hope to have this finalised soon."
Gulf Racing is an evolution of the Gulf AMR Middle East team which ran in the ILMC, is wholly owned by Mike Wainwright and Roald Goethe and, as previously stated, will be managed by David Price in the UK. Gulf Racing Middle East is a separate team based out of Dubai, and there is no cross-over between the two.
The Blancpain Endurance Series features races on five of Europe's most prestigious circuits, with a sixth round in October still to be announced, with the highlights being the Total 24 Hours of Spa in Belgium at the end of July, and 3-hour races at Monza (Italy), Silverstone (UK), Paul Ricard (France) and new addition to the calendar, Nürburgring (Germany) in September.
The eye-catching livery and graphics for Gulf Racing's two new McLaren MP4-12C GT3 challengers has been designed by Magenta (www.wearemagenta.com) and a new team website and Facebook page will shortly be launched with full details on the team, its drivers and cars.