20 April, 2017
British racing driver Matt Bell has a full season of LMP3 racing ahead of him with the United Autosports team, starting with the first ever round of the Henderson Insurance LMP3 Cup Championship this weekend at Donington Park.
The LMP3 category was first launched by the ACO (the governing body and organiser of the Le Mans 24 Hours) in 2014 as a cost-controlled feeder series for Le Mans Prototype racing. The regulations have created a category of fantastic racing cars and close, exciting racing.
There is a strong emphasis on driver development in LMP3 and this is where drivers like Bell come in, partnering amateur team mates and coaching them throughout the racing season.
New for 2017, the ACO-supported LMP3 Cup Championship features six race meetings, each of which contains two, one-hour sprint races. Bell is partnered by Tony Wells and the duo will compete in the No.3 Ligier JS P3.
“Tony has taken part in a couple of pre-season tests with United Autosports and he has been really quick,” said Bell. “LMP3 is a great category and it is booming right now so it is good to see the addition of this new UK championship.
“United Autosports have set the bar high with a double win at the opening European Le Mans Series round last weekend,” he continued. “Now we’re hoping to carry on that top form.”
In addition to the LMP3 Cup, Bell will compete in the Michelin Le Mans Cup. This supports the European Le Mans Series and its flagship event is the ‘Road to Le Mans’, held at Le Mans ahead of the start of the world-famous Le Mans 24 Hours.
For the Michelin Le Mans Cup, Bell will be partnered by American Jim McGuire who has raced in the U.S., most notably in the Continental Tire series. The pair will start their campaign at the first round at Monza in Italy on 13th May. All of the rounds, bar the two 55-minute Road to Le Mans races, will be single two-hour races.
“This is Jim’s first full season in LMP3 so we will be looking to make good progress throughout the season and challenge for podiums by the end of the year,” said Bell. “The Michelin Le Mans Cup supports the European Le Mans Series so that means we race on some excellent circuits. The addition of Monza and Portimao has strengthened it even further.
“I’m excited to go back and race at Le Mans after doing the Road to Le Mans as a one-off race last year,” he continued. “I have good track knowledge now so it will be good to race there in a prototype. I’m also excited to be racing at Portimao again as that is where me and Zak Brown took United Autosports’ first ever podium back in 2010!”
The Henderson Insurance LMP3 Cup Championship starts this weekend at Donington Park. Race One is on Saturday at 15:25 and Race Two gets underway on Sunday at 15:40.