29 August, 2016
The penultimate round of this year’s Blancpain Sprint Series in Budapest was a disappointing weekend for Rob Bell. The Hungaroring circuit in the capital was the venue for the event and Rob, driving alongside regular Sprint Series team mate, Alvaro Parente, piloted the Garage 59 team #58 McLaren 650S GT3 with two 17th place finishes.
The highly experienced McLaren GT factory driver travelled to Budapest with a healthy lead in the Blancpain GT Series drivers’ championship and hoped to stay ahead of his rivals with points scoring finishes, however the weekend never came alive for Rob.
The practice sessions that opened up track action quickly showed the team that the team lacked pace with both the #58 car and the sister #59 car struggling to record a top ten lap time. Qualifying saw little improvement in the team’s fortunes with an 11th row start for the qualifying race, in the thick of the grid, with little opportunity to reach a points paying finish. The duo of experienced drivers struggled to make up ground, gaining a few places to finish 17th at the chequered flag.
The main race, with Rob taking the start in 17th place, was another tough one hour of racing for the Garage 59 team. It was a good start for Rob with the McLaren 650S lying 10th by the end of the first lap and then up to ninth on the next lap, then holding station until the driver change pit stop. A prolonged stop in the pitlane dropped the car back down the field, with the #58 car finishing in 17th place.
Rob said of his Budapest visit, “that was a weekend to forget for me, we just didn’t have the pace of our competitors and couldn’t get the car working to its potential at this track. Leaving without earning any points has really put a dent in my lead, although I’m still ahead by seven points and two more rounds to go. I want to do the best possible in every race, so I’ll take them as they come and hope that I can still be leading by the close of the season.”
Rob returns to the race track in two weeks’ time at Donington Park for the final round of the British GT championship, a series he is contesting in a McLaren 650S GT3 with the Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse team.