22 May, 2017
Stellar weekend sees Bell come away from Kent circuit with double podium
Matt Bell scored his first win of 2017 in the Henderson Insurance Brokers LMP3 Cup Championship round at Brands Hatch on Saturday, 20 May, while finishing second in Sunday’s race.
Sharing the No. 3 United Autosports Ligier JS P3 with Tony Wells, the 27-year-old crossed the line first on Saturday, having led from lights-to-flag.
A fast lap late in Saturday’s Qualifying session put Wells on pole for Round 3 of the championship, and the Amateur-rated driver had a strong opening stint in the race to remain out front when he pitted to hand the car over to Bell.
Bell came out of the pits with a five-second lead, which he soon increased until the Safety Car was called to retrieve a stricken competitor, bunching the field up.
Nevertheless, a good restart kept him out front for the rest of the race, eventually taking the chequered flag by 5.649 seconds.
“It was one of those dream races, really,” Bell said. “Tony put it on pole in Qualifying as the last one across the line in a drying session.
“It was a fairly smooth run in the race as well. The Safety Car came out, which wasn't ideal, but we managed to get a very good restart and get the gap up to five seconds within a couple of laps.
“It was our first win, and a good effort from the team all around.”
Wells started the No. 3 Ligier from third in Sunday afternoon’s race, and came into the pits second after moving up a position at the start on the inside of Paddock Hill Bend.
However, Bell only came out of the pit lane third, having been passed in the pits by the same Ecurie Ecosse car that Wells had overtaken on the opening lap.
“Again, Tony did a great job at the start having qualified third on Sunday morning,” Bell said. “He managed to jump and get second up the inside of Turn 1.
“Unfortunately they seemed to have just managed to jump us by a second in the pit stops, which we still haven't gotten to the bottom of yet. That's an area we can improve on next time.”
While Bell was unable to catch his rivals on track, the leading car had a puncture with six minutes on the clock, bringing out the red flag and ending the race prematurely.
This promoted Bell and Wells to second, finishing less than two seconds behind the winners in the classification.
“The red flag came out later, so second was as good as we were going to get today, once they got us in the pits.”
Next on the schedule is the LMP3 Cup round at Spa-Francorchamps on 9-11 June, and following the success he had at Brands Hatch, Bell is looking to go one better in Belgium.
“We really want a double victory to get our championship challenge truly on track, and Spa would be a nice place to do it!”