22 October, 2012
After wrapping up his British GT season at Donington Park a few weeks ago, Matt Bell thought he had competed in his last race of the 2012 season, until he got a phone call offering an exciting opportunity.
This weekend Matt will race the JWA-Avila GTE-Am Porsche at the final round of the FIA World Endurance Championship in Shanghai after getting a last minute call up from the team. Matt's performances in the final few rounds of the British GT Championship, which saw him take two wins, caught the attention of the team and this made Matt their first choice when they needed a driver to join Paul Daniels and Joel Camathias in Shanghai.
The young Geordie racer will have a steep learning curve to contend with in Shanghai. The first time he will drive the JWA Porsche will be during the first free practice session on Friday morning. That will also be the first time he has driven around the Shanghai track and the first time he has even been to China.
"I can't wait!" said Matt. "I love a challenge and I love to see and do new things so this ticks all the boxes for me. I'm not going in blind though as I am doing all the homework I can by watching in car footage and looking at data. I've always been a quick learner when it comes to new tracks too. I think the toughest part of this trip will be organising a last minute Chinese visa."
Something Matt will have to get used to very quickly is the sight of a Le Mans prototype sportscar looming large in his mirrors. The FIA World Endurance races are mixed class with GT cars and LMP cars all racing together. The closing speeds of the LMP cars is something that the GT drivers have to learn to deal with very quickly.
"That is something new to me," confirmed Matt. "But I know how to use my mirrors so I don't expect to have any dramas on that front.
"I'm very excited to get this opportunity, especially at this stage of the season," he continued. "It's a new challenge for me and I love the fact we will be racing on another F1 track, alongside some of the world's best drivers and teams. I've always been taught that peak performance creates opportunity so more than anything else I am happy that my on track performance is paying off."
The 6 Hours of Shanghai gets underway at 1100hrs (0500hrs UK) this Sunday.