31 May, 2016
McLaren GT factory driver, Rob Bell, stood on the podium at Oulton Park this weekend, with a second place finish in the second of the two races at the third event in the 2016 British GT Championship, with this success following on from an eighth place finish in the first race.
Oulton Park, Rob’s local track, hosted the third of seven events on the calendar of the leading UK GT championship. Rob is racing with Scottish driver, Alisdair McCaig, this season, with the duo piloting the impressive #79 McLaren 650S GT3 of the Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse team.
The weekend started with strong practice sessions and the Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse McLaren ran comfortably in the top ten. Alisdair was on track for the first of the qualifying sessions with his fastest lap putting the car on provisional fifth place start. Rob improved on Alisdair’s time with second fastest lap, just three hundredths of a second off the pole time, to secure the team a front row grid slot for the start of the first race.
Alisdair was behind the wheel for the start of the first race and with a clean opening lap, he held position. As the race settled the Scottish driver maintained his pace but was unable to improve his position, pitting on lap 14 to hand over the car to Rob. It was a quick stop for the #79 McLaren 650S GT3, with the seasoned pro improving to fourth position, but a few laps later the team were handed a stop/go penalty for an infringement during the pitstop, forcing Rob to return to the pitlane to serve the penalty. He rejoined in 14th position and over the course of the remaining laps he made his way forward, finally taking the chequered flag in eighth place, a strong recovery after an eventful race.
The second of the two races saw the team bounce back from their first race woes. Rob started the race and attacked hard to the Bentley pole-sitter, but with tough defending from Seb Morris in the Bentley, Rob was unable to find a way past in the opening lap. The pace of the Bentley proved insurmountable, with the leader pulling out a 6 second lead in the early stages and despite Rob pushing hard, he was unable to match his rivals pace. He pitted at half distance lying in second place.
After Rob handed the Black Bull Ecurie Ecose McLaren 650S GT3 to Alisdair, the leader was nine seconds ahead with the positions remaining the same until the race was drawn to a close on lap 32, having been brought to an early end after an accident for one of the GT4 contenders.
Rob said of the two races, “We had a great second race and it felt good to be on the podium with Alisdair, a well-deserved reward for all the hard work of the weekend. There was definitely a chance to be on the podium in the first race as well, but it was unfortunate that we were caught up in the pitlane issues and had a penalty which really blew any chance of a podium finish.
“We had a really good pace throughout the whole weekend, but we couldn’t match the Bentley on this circuit, so the win wasn’t there today. We’re knocking on the door of getting on to the top step though, so we’ll be back out in Silverstone with high hopes for more silverware.”
Rob now heads to Le Mans for the 24 Hour race test day, with the McLaren factory driver joining his Asian Le Mans Series championship winning team, Clearwater Racing, to taken on this ultimate endurance racing challenge.