30 September, 2012
Matt Bell finished the final race of the 2012 British GT Championship on the podium at Donington Park today, with a hard fought third place finish in the two-hour event. Driving the No.24 United Autosports McLaren MP4-12C GT3 car, Matt and his British GT team mate Charles Bateman have finished on the podium in three of the last four races and so take third place in the championship despite a frustrating early season.
The Donington weekend didn't get off to the most auspicious of starts when the No.24 McLaren had to sit out the first free practice session due to a fuel pressure problem. Once fixed they were off and running and heading for a good spot in qualifying but a reoccurrence scuppered the final fast laps and Matt and Charles had to settle for tenth place on the grid.
The low grid spot wasn't a problem for long as by the end of Charles' opening stint he was up to second place! He handed over the car to Matt who then had to wait for the success penalty time to pass before he could join the race. The duo had a long wait at Donington of 28 seconds, which was made up of 20 seconds for the win at Silverstone last time out and a further 8 seconds for silver driver status. This extra time meant that Matt joined the race in fourth place.
"I joined behind the Porsche of Caine and I was struggling a bit to get past him," explained Matt. "Soon after this the safety car came out and when the race restarted there were three of us going three abreast into turn one. I took the lead briefly but had to back out of it to avoid a big accident. A couple of laps later though I was up to second place where I stayed until my tyres went off and I couldn't defend from a charging Peter Kox in the Lamborghini so he managed to steal second from me.
"We're happy with third today. Considering the problems we had on Saturday, which really put us on the back foot, we were able to gather it all up and get a result. To finish the season with three podiums from four races demonstrates our capabilities. Poor reliability at the start of the year really cost us but we are fully on form now and we'll be ready for the new season when it comes along next year.
"I want to thank United Autosports for their hard work and effort this weekend and during the whole season, and of course congratulations to Zak (Brown) and Alvaro (Parente) for the win today," he concluded. "I've also had some great support here this weekend from J&C Joel and I hope to see the guys again next year."