22 September, 2009
Rob Bell narrowly missed out on victory at the Algarve circuit in Portugal in the weekend’s FIA GT race. Driving alongside Andrew Kirkaldy in the CRS Racing Ferrari F430, the Newcastle born racer and his team mate were front runners for much of the GT2 race. However a stop/go penalty demoted the team back to fifth and ruined their chances of victory.
Bell and Kirkaldy qualified seventh for the race and a after a stunning start from Kirkaldy which saw him drive around the outside of the pack, the CRS Racing car took the lead of the GT2 category. Kirkaldy drove well and was one of the first to pit for new rear tyres and to hand over to Bell. After a trouble free run for Bell, the safety car was deployed whilst oil was cleared from the circuit. Bell and the team believed he had completed his minimum time of 35 minutes in the car, therefore they was able to pit whilst the rest of the field were unable to, thus taking advantage of the safety car period.
With only 25 minutes of the race still to run and with Kirkaldy back in the car, the team were handed a 13 second stop/go penalty whilst running in a solid position for victory. The stewards of the race deemed that Bell had only completed 34 minutes and 47 seconds during his total stints in the race. This meant they were 13 seconds short of the minimum and were therefore handed a 13 second stop and go penalty. The car rejoined the track in fifth place, causing them to miss out on their hard fought result.
Bell added after the weekend, “It was a frustrating race weekend for us because we had the pace in the car and the ability to win, so the fact we were 13 seconds short in our stint makes it a real shame for the team after all their hard work. It’s marginal, but we understand it’s the rules and you have to stick to them.
“To win these races you need to take chances and we took a chance to pit when we did. It was a glaring error that I didn’t complete the required time in the car, but it wasn’t done on purpose, so we just have to learn from it and move forward.”
There are still two rounds remaining for Bell in the 2009 FIA GT calendar. Next up is the Paul Ricard Circuit in France on the 4th October, before the final round at the Zolder circuit in Belgium on the 25th October.