08 February, 2017
McLaren GT factory driver, Rob Bell, started his 2017 season with a fifth place finish in the Bathurst 12 Hours, Australia’s premier sportscar endurance event. Driving the #1 Tekno Autosports McLaren 650S GT3 with fellow McLaren GT factory drivers, Come Ledogar and Alvaro Parente, the trio raced from the back of the field to fifth overall and third in class.
The team put in a strong performance over the course of the practice sessions and qualified a well-deserved sixth place, however the team opted to change the engine after the qualifying session, relegating the car to the pitlane for the start of the race.
Rob was behind the wheel for the opening laps, and making good progress to lie in 21st place of the 50-car grid. However, an engine issued forced the Lancashire-based driver to limp back to the pits. The Tekno Autosports crew set to work to get the car back out on track and Rob was able to rejoin the race, although four laps down. Undaunted he drove smoothly and maturely to make progress up through the field. After two hours of running the team were back in 37th position, and by the midway point were lying just outside of the top ten.
The second half of the race proved the resilience and tenacity of the team and drivers, with the 650S GT3 moving forward as each hour mark passed and lying in fifth as the race drew to a close. After a tough start, the team had shown its durability and the car’s strength in the challenging endurance distance, a creditable effort from everyone in the team.
Rob said of his second Bathurst drive, “It was a hard race, with the setbacks we had after qualifying and in the early part of the race really adding to the challenge of what is a very tough event. But a fantastic team effort pulled us through and I don’t think any of us thought there was a class podium for us at the beginning of the race. We proved just how good the McLaren 650S can be under the pressures of a 12 hour race. It was a good week with Tekno Autosports and I hope that I’ll be back to have another crack at this Australian challenge next year.”
Rob now returns to the UK in preparation for his new season of sportscar racing.