20 May, 2009
Newcastle born racing driver Rob Bell looks ahead to the biggest challenge of his racing season next weekend as he competes in the historic Le Mans 24 hours race. After the disappointment of last year’s race which saw Bell retire three hours from the end whilst running in second place, the GT ace is keen to race for victory. Bell, the reigning Le Mans Series Champion will be driving the JMW Motorsport team Ferrari F430 in the GT2 category, alongside fellow experienced racers Tim Sugden and Andrew Kirkaldy.
The JMW entry is one of the hot favourites for victory in the GT2 category, as the strong driver line up and team combination makes them the team to beat. This will be the third time Bell has raced in the famed 24 hour race after making his debut in the Panoz car in 2007, before returning in the Virgo Motorsport Ferrari F430 in 2008.
Bell commented, “Le Mans is a fantastic race to be a part of, the atmosphere at the track is just phenomenal, to be honest it’s more akin to a football match than a motor race. The crowd are so enthusiastic and that gets the adrenaline going which helps when you’re awake for nearly 48 hours.
“Le Mans is a tricky track to learn, but having driven there the last two years I’ve become more familiar with it and sort of know what to expect. Every lap in Le Mans is like a qualifying lap, you have to be flat out the whole time and have your wits about you. There is no room for a steady lap, it’s a sprint to the flag basically, so we know we have to be pushing every lap to make it count.
“I’m really aiming for a podium this year. We suffered a retirement during last year’s race, whilst running in a competitive position, so this year I will be out to finish the full race distance. We know we are up against it with the Porsches though. They have the straight line speed advantage over us. However last year the top two Porsches crashed into each other and the GT2 category was dominated by the Ferrari’s, so we know anything can happen at Le Mans.
“The car has had some updates over the winter. The new rule changes are the biggest change for us. The ACO have implemented changes to slow down the GT2 category because we were heading under the four minute a lap mark. These changes hurt us more than the Porsches, in effect we have been penalised twice as much as them in terms of our aero efficiency. However we can still look at the data from last year and have a rough idea of what to expect and we are going into the race relatively confidently.
The Worlds oldest sportscar race, the Le Mans 24 hours will take place on the 11-14th June. Qualifying will take place on Thursday 11th June from 7pm, with the popular driver’s parade in the centre of Le Mans on Friday evening, before the 24 hour race gets underway at 3pm local time on Saturday 13th June.