21 July, 2014
Rob Bell enjoyed a successful weekend of racing at Red Bull Ring in Austria this weekend with the McLaren factory driver making a one-off return to JMW Motorsport for the third round of the European Le Mans Series. The Lancashire-based driver joined Daniel McKenzie and George Richardson in the team’s Ferrari F458 Italia for the four-hour race with a third place class finish for the trio.
The two free practice sessions on Friday were an opportunity for Rob to reacquaint himself with the team and the car, although having raced with JMW Motorsport for three years, he took little time to get up to speed. The team had posted fourth fastest lap after the first session, improving to third fastest in class in the second session. Rob qualified the car in fourth place for the race, the second quickest Ferrari on the grid.
The 33-car grid lined up for the start with JMW Motorsport on the sixth row, in bright sunshine and extremely hot track and cockpit temperatures. Daniel McKenzie took the start and was quickly into his stride and had made his way into third in class in the opening laps. The team held position during Daniel’s stint with the young Brit handing over to George Richardson for the middle stint. He maintained third for his time behind the wheel, pitting for Bell to take over for the race to the chequered flag. Rob was straight into the hunt for second place, trying to catch the Ferrari ahead, but the gap was just too big to close before the end of the race. Rob crossed the line third to record his sixth podium of the season across three different championships.
Rob said of the weekend, “I really enjoyed being back among the familiar faces at JMW Motorsport and working with such great guys. As always the car was prepped really well and was on the pace straight out of the box. Daniel and George are two promising young sportscar drivers and put in really good performances. I’m pleased to have been able to play a part in bringing the team a podium finish this weekend”.
Rob now turns his attentions to the Spa 24 Hour race. He’ll be back on duty for McLaren GT, driving with Von Ryan Racing. It will be Rob’s sixth visit to this prestigious endurance event. He says of racing at Spa, “I love this track, it’s a real drivers circuit with everything you want from it and more.”
“There’s nothing quite like Eau Rouge, La Source, Raidillon, Les Combes – they are all just awesome sectors which bring a smile to your face when you get them spot on.” Adds Rob. “On my visit to the Spa 24 Hours in 2012, driving a McLaren MP4-12C I had a great stint from the back of the grid to seventh place. Last year we were the best placed McLaren, so I’m hoping to have a strong run this year and hopefully be on the podium at the finish.”
The Spa 24 Hour race takes place this coming weekend, 25 – 27th July.