20 July, 2010
The third round of the 2010 Le Mans Series at Portimao in Portugal produced the best result of the season so far for JMW Motorsport, with Rob Bell racing to a fourth place finish with the team’s Aston Martin Vantage GT2 race car with team mate Darren Turner.
The heat of the Algarve venue added to the challenge faced by the Le Mans Series teams, with Bell qualifying just behind the Porsche and Ferrari entries for the start of the race. Bell was pleased with the pace of the Aston Martin Vantage saying, “Our car in qualifying trim isn’t our major strength yet and I think our grid position reflected this. We’re never unduly concerned as it’s always a long race and the race pace is always the priority.”
Bell took the opening stint for the race, with the Newcastle driver declaring it was ‘a mega-start’ for him, but all his efforts evaporated with the two GT1 cars squabbling ahead and losing touch with the main pack. Bell struggled to pass these faster cars, finally taking them after six laps to start hunting down the lead pack. He picked up the pace and caught the pack to lie fourth when he handed over the car to team mate Turner. Turner had a good stint, lying third when he pitted for the next driver change over. Technical gremlins lengthened this pitstop and the following ones, but the team’s pace kept them in the podium hunt. At the end of the 1000km race distance the team had narrowly missed out on their goal, crossing the line in a well-deserved fourth place.
Bell said of the result, “I’m pleased we finished as it was a tough weekend, not least because of the intense heat, despite the race being held in the evening. The Dunlop tyres stood up really well to these conditions and proved to be a match for the others, particularly at the start when it was at its hottest.
“We’re only at the beginning of our development programme with the Aston Martin and we’re improving every time out, so it’s all going in the right direction. It wasn’t a trouble free run in the race and we did have a few technical issues to manage which hampered our pace at times, yet overall it’s been a very positive weekend.”
Bell heads to Hungary for the next stop in the Le Mans Series with the fourth round taking place at Hungaroring in Budapest.