26 January, 2014
Matt Bell Gains Valuable Experience In Legendary American Race
Northumberland’s Matt Bell returns home later this week convinced the experience of contesting his maiden Daytona 24 Hour race will assist his quest for British GT Championship title glory this year.
A 20-minute pit-stop after 13 hours to cure a small water leak cost the talented Bell a likely podium finish if not class victory but consistently fast lap times around the demanding and unique Daytona International Speedway course in Florida, saw Bell leave his mark on one of the most famous sportscar races in the world.
Britain’s rising GT star ultimately posted an unrepresentative 16th place in the hotly-contested GT category in the Rolex 24 At Daytona that finished today (26 Jan).
“We were consistently fast and fighting for the lead until just after mid-distance,” reflected Matt. “Starting from ‘pole’, leading and setting the fastest lap in the race shows our Audi ran very strong.
“Unfortunately a water leak from a pipe located in an almost inaccessible part of the engine bay put us out of contention which was a great shame.”
Competing in only his fourth twice-around-the-clock and on American soil for the first time in his burgeoning career, Bell together with co-drivers Christopher Haase (D), Bryce Miller (USA) and René Rast (D) had looked set for top honours in their Paul Miller Racing Audi R8 LMS.
The Audi started from class pole-position on Saturday afternoon and fought for the lead until around 3.30am on Sunday morning before the time-consuming pit-stop cost Bell any chance of a famous Daytona debut result run on the 3.56-mile Daytona track combining the NASCAR tri-oval and an infield section.
Matt added: “Considering this Audi was new to the Miller team, it was a new driver line-up sharing the R8 and I was making my Daytona debut on what is a very unique track featuring the incredibly steep banking, I have to be pleased with the overall performance.
“The winter break in GT racing can be quite long so getting the opportunity of racing an Audi in January similar to the one I race for United Autosports in the UK is very beneficial.
“It can only help me in advance of pre-season British GT testing and furthering my career in general.”