31 July, 2017
McLaren GT factory driver, Rob Bell, endured a tough weekend at Spa-Francorchamps, with the Blancpain Endurance Series headline event proving a challenge that the #58 Strakka Racing McLaren 650S GT3 was not able to conquer.
The weekend began with the unveiling of a bespoke livery for the #59 car, with the design the result of a fan competition run on social media. From over 100 entries the winning design was produced and the livery on the car just days ahead of the start of the Spa race.
Rob and his team mates, Ben Barnicoat and Come Ledogar, had a tough weekend right from the first session, with the #58 car not showing its potential in the early sessions. After the day and night qualifying sessions the #58 car was 33rd of the 63 car grid, to line up in this position for the start of the race.
Rob started the race and in the melee of the run to the first corner was able to make up some ground. As the race settled Rob was served a penalty for exceeding track limits, a harsh price to pay for an offence that Rob was convinced he was wrongfully accused of. The experienced racer quickly put the setback behind him and continued to push hard until the end of his stint, when he handed the car over to Ben.
Ben picked up where Rob had left off, continuing to make up ground and lap at a competitive pace, lying 35th after three hours. However, a drive issue saw Ben off the track and trying to restart the car. He wasn’t able to make it back to the pits, stranded at Stavelot Corner, forcing retirement for the #58 car.
Rob said of the weekend, “It wasn’t a good weekend for the #58 car. It looked fantastic with the stunning fan-designed livery, but sadly the fans didn’t get to see enough of it. It’s really disappointing that we were out of the race before the end of the day, but that’s racing. It was a really tough few days; we really didn’t show our pace in any of the pre-race sessions. In the race itself the car began well and our race pace was pretty good, but sadly we weren’t able to go the distance.”
Rob returns to the track at the end of August with the next round of the Blancpain Sprint Series at Hungaroring in Budapest, Hungary.