24 August, 2009
Newcastle born racing driver Rob Bell and the JMW team were on course for another resounding victory this weekend, until a technical failure put them right down the order, and left them salving a top ten finish from the Nurburgring round of the Le Mans Series.
Driving in the JMW Motorsport Ferrari F430 GT2 alongside regular team mate Gianmaria Bruni, Bell and the team led the GT2 category during the opening part of the race, before a broken driveshaft cost the duo dearly. However, the JMW Ferrari crossed the line ninth place in class, taking the fastest lap of the race to underline the team’s race pace.
Qualifying fourth in class, the pairing of Bell and Bruni were confident of the car’s potential to move through the field during the race. Bruni took the start of the race for the JMW team and after the first lap was lying third. By the time he handed over to Bell in the first round of pit stops the pairing were leading the GT2 category. During his stint, Bell pulled away from the rest of the GT field building a gap of over 60 seconds from the chasing Team Modena Ferrari.
Bell was at the wheel of the JMW Ferrari when disaster struck in the second hour of the race, with a broken drive shaft. Bell slowly nursed the car back to the pits for repairs, which the team completed in record time. After only 13 minutes in the pits, the JMW car was back out on track, albeit seven laps behind the leader. With all hopes of victory dashed, Bell and Bruni’s goal was to score points. Lying in 12th place, they stormed their way back up to ninth place during the final hours, taking a stunning fastest lap of the race en route to the chequered flag.
Bell reflected on the race, “Before the issue with the drive shaft, the car felt very good, the tyres were working really well and everything felt pretty much perfect, to be honest. We were feeling really confident that we could take the win, but when you have such a major failure on the car, it was always going to cost you. I have to take my hat off to the team though; they did a fantastic job in the pits and we were back out on track in less than 13 minutes. We really pushed from then onwards to get into the points. We came out about seven laps down on the leaders and by the end we had narrowed that to five laps, so the raw pace in the car was there. It’s just a shame we couldn’t reward the lads with points for their hard work.
“At Silverstone we will be going for pole position, fastest lap and the victory with the hope of still taking the titles. We have to be realistic though, in that we are also asking for the Porsche not to finish the race to enable us to mathematically win. But we have the pace in the car and we are confident that we will be able to win, so we have to hope things go our way.”
Bell and the JMW motorsport team will return to the track on the 13th of September for the final race of the season. The team and drivers are both currently second in the championship battle, with Bell and Bruni, eight points behind the leading Porsche pairing in the driver’s standings. Bell will hope the advantage of the teams ‘home’ track at Silverstone will help him retain both the Driver’s and the Constructor’s LMS GT2 titles in 2009.