28 July, 2014
Rob Bell, McLaren GT factory driver, joined Von Ryan Racing for this year’s Spa 24 Hours race in Belgium this weekend, but an accident in the second hour for the team’s McLaren MP4-12C forced the team out of the event and Rob unable to show his prowess in this popular long-distance race.
The event began with the traditional driver parade in the town of Spa-Francorchamps on Wednesday, with Rob joining team mates Tim Mullen and Shane van Gisbergen to showcase the team’s McLaren GT car in the town square. Track running began on Thursday with the free practice, however an accident for the ART team brought out the red flag, curtailing the session to just over half an hour of running. Unfortunately Von Ryan Racing had not posted a representative lap time during the session, leaving the team with plenty of work for qualifying.
In the pre-qualifying session the team finally put in some laps of the Spa circuit, with mid-field times posted before the qualifying session later in the day, with Von Ryan Racing putting in 20th fastest lap, 13th in class in the first session, another session blighted by red flags, curtailing precious track time. In the night session, the team improved to 19th quickest car, 11th in class with their times qualifying them for the Super Pole session.
Rob was nominated by the team to take part in the Super Pole shoot-out on Friday and was first on track to put in a series of flying laps to determine the team’s grid position. After all the top 20 cars had completed their laps, Rob had qualified the car in 17th and a ninth row grid slot for the start of the race.
A morning warm-up session on Saturday morning kicked off race day with Rob preparing the car for the race and posting 18th fastest time. Rob also took the start for the team and was quickly on the pace, moving up to 15th place by the end of the first hour. He handed the car over to Tim Mullen after pitting for new tyres and a refuel, but his team mate was involved in an accident which ended the race for Von Ryan Racing.
Rob said after the weekend, “It’s tough when you’re sidelined so early in the race and with so much time ahead to make further progress, but it was not to be this weekend, and these things happen in motor racing when there’s such a large field, a mix of experience of drivers in a highly competitive environment and Tim was just really unlucky today. My thanks go to the hard-working Von Ryan Racing team and I hope they have better fortunes in their remaining races this season.”