27 July, 2009
Newcastle born racing driver Rob Bell celebrated a well deserved podium over the weekend in the FIA GT Spa 24 hour endurance race. Driving alongside regular team mate Andrew Kirkaldy, Bell was also joined by sportscar regulars Peter Kox and Antonio Garcia in the No.56 CRS Racing Ferrari F430 for the challenge of racing for a day and a night. The quartet of drivers took a third place in the GT2 category after a hard fought race to the flag.
The Thursday practice sessions were held in changeable conditions leaving Bell and the team with minimal valuable track time to learn the car ahead of the race. The mixed weather conditions followed through into the qualifying session, with Bell being caught out by a monsoon style downpour as the session drew to a close. The new tyres and dry set up on the car gave the team a tough task to be at the sharp end of the grid, so it was a good effort from Bell to secure ninth in class.
The No.56 CRS Ferrari drivers pushed hard throughout the race, keeping up the pace and moving through the field. Early on the team had an unscheduled stop for a small technical issue, putting them on the back foot, but they pushed on. The team also had issues during one of Bell’s stints when the starter motor failed but just 11 minutes in the pits to repair the fault and the team were back on track. During the final two hours the team were running in a solid fourth place, when the gearbox developed a problem, leaving Peter Kox with the unenviable task of nursing the car home in fifth gear. Bell and the CRS racing team were delighted to eventually bring the car home to a podium position.
Bell commented after the race, “We had a very tough race to be on the podium yesterday. We had several issues with the car that at one point I really didn’t think it would make the flag, but that makes the podium all the more rewarding. All four of the drivers were really quick and on the same pace and Peter did a great job to drive it home safely. We had four really strong drivers in the car and our aim was to collect as many points as possible from the race.
“The car felt good all weekend and the team did a superb job throughout the race, especially considering all the crew were awake for more than 24 hours. We needed the points and even when we were running in fourth we were pleased, so to make it to the podium is a great boost for the team.”
Bell will return to the track next weekend in the Le Mans Series driving for the JMW motorsport team, where the Algarve Circuit in Portugal will host the third race of the season on the 1st/2nd August.