24 June, 2013
Leading British sportscar driver and McLaren GT factory driver, Rob Bell, returned home from Le Mans today with a heavy heart, following the tragic death of team mate and good friend, Allan Simonsen. Bell drove one of five Aston Martin Racing Vantage GTEs in the race, with Simonsen in a sister car. He also drove – and won - with him a few years ago when racing with Virgo Motorsport in 2007 and they also worked together for a number of years at Palmer Promosport in Bedford.
At this year’s Le Mans 24 Hour race Bell shared the No.99 Aston Martin Racing Vantage GTE in the PRO class with team mates Frédéric Makowiecki and Bruno Senna. The trio dominated the Le Mans 24 Hours in their class, taking class pole in qualifying and then leading the race for many hours. However, with less than five hours remaining, a wet track caused driver Makowiecki to spin and collide with the barrier, with the accident damage too severe for the Frenchman to continue and forcing the No.99 entry into retirement.
Bell said of the weekend, “It’s disappointing not to have finished the race, but it was good to see one of the other Aston Martins on the podium in third place. However, for me, the weekend was overshadowed by the loss of a great friend and fellow driver. It’s been hard for everyone and my thoughts are with Allan’s family at this time.”
Bell will be back out on track next weekend for the third round of the Blancpain Endurance Series, returning to his regular driving duties with Gulf Racing UK and the McLaren MP4-12C GT car, racing at the Paul Ricard circuit.