28 November, 2008
British racing driver Rob Bell completed his final race weekend of the season over the weekend at the Circuito Internacional Potrero de los funes in San Luis, Argentina driving for the CR Scuderia squad in the FIA GT Championship. Bell narrowly missed out on a podium position after a strong run in the race was blighted by incidents. Starting from fifth place on the grid, the team fought hard to eventually bring the car home in fourth place at the chequered flag.
Bell and team mate Andrew Kirkaldy in the no.56 Ferrari, showed strong pace throughout practice and quickly got to grips with learning the new San Luis street circuit. The race marked the first time in FIA GT Championship history that an event has been held in South America. The team worked hard to get up to speed and during qualifying set a fifth fastest time for the race the following day.
Kirkaldy was in the driving seat as the lights went green for Sunday’s two hour race, however an incident at the first corner knocked the no 56 Ferrari into a spin. Leaving Kirkaldy to rejoin the back of the pack, giving the drivers and team with plenty of work to do for the remainder of the race if they were to secure some points. Kirkaldy did a solid job getting the car up to sixth place before handing over to Bell.
Bell took the wheel of the no.56 Ferrari for the middle stint of the race to continue the comeback drive. With stunning pace and gritty determination, Bell made three fantastic overtaking manoeuvres within quick succession and before long he found himself in a podium position and joined the three-car battle for second place. Bell then pitted to hand back over to Kirkaldy for the final stint, with the car handling well the team looked set to score at the new Argentinean track.
The closing stages of the race saw Kirkaldy running in third, preparing to take the last podium spot of the race. Unfortunately on the last lap, Kirkaldy and the chasing Porsche suffered a collision, leaving Kirkaldy with a damaged car. He recovered to an eventual fourth place, marking the end of an incident packed race for the no.56 CR Scuderia.
Bell commented after the weekend, “We’ve had a really unlucky run in the last few races, we have been running well but keep getting tangled up in incidents which effectively ruin our races. In Argentina we were definitely quick enough to be on the podium, which would have been a great end to the season. It was the first time I’d visited the San Luis track, but I enjoyed it. It’s a tight street circuit with barriers either side, and because it was a new track it was very dusty offline. When you went to overtake it was almost like being on a wet track, it was so slippery which made passing very difficult.
“Overall it was a great experience in Argentina, I just wish we could’ve had a better result. I’ve had a great season with the CR Scuderia team, they’ve been good to work with and there’s definitely potential in the car, we just had too many incidents to be able to secure the points we should have had.”
The Argentinean round of the FIA GT Championship marked the end of the season for Bell, who raced in both FIA GT and The Le Mans Series this year. During his racing season, Bell secured the GT2 Drivers and Constructors Championships in the Le Mans Series, as well as racing in the GT2 category of the Le Mans 24 hours race.