08 May, 2017
McLaren factory driver, Rob Bell, had a tough weekend in the second round of the Blancpain Sprint Series at Brands Hatch. Driving with his regular team, Strakka Racing, in the #59 McLaren 650S GT3 with Andrew Watson, the duo produced a 15th place finish in the qualifying race and 21st position in the main race.
The practice sessions started the weekend, with Andrew and Rob, putting the car through its paces and putting in solid times ahead of qualifying. Rob expected to make it through to the third qualifying session but a small error cost him time and put him out of the final session, leaving the #59 McLaren 650S on the 11th row of the grid for the qualifying race.
Rob started the race and on the tight track that offered little opportunity for overtaking, with the experienced driver only managing to pick off a few drivers, capitalising on others mistakes to improve position. Rob struggled with the pace of the car, pitting for the mandatory driver change in 18th place. Andrew headed back out on track and after 40 laps of racing the #59 car crossed the finishing line in 16th place.
Andrew was in the McLaren 650S GT3 for the start of the main race, lining up in 16th on the grid. The McLaren Academy driver coped well with the melee of the start, maintaining position in the early laps, however he was struggling with power due to a water leak that was causing high temperatures and a lack of pace. Andrew continued on, handing over to Rob at half distance, but with the pace continuing to drop off, Rob was only able to tour the circuit, lacking the power to fend off any challenges, finally crossing the finish line in 21st.
Rob said of the Brands Hatch races, “It was very disappointing not to be able to show our potential at our home race. Not only is a difficult track to overtake on, we just didn’t have the outright pace needed to be at the front. In addition, aside from the Lamborghini, the times were so close, with the top 15 running within 4/10ths, it was ultra competitive, particularly in qualifying. In the second race we were severely hampered with the water leak, which lost us engine power and we just fell back into the clutches of other faster cars. It was a shame not to have been able to put on an improved performance on home soil, but we’ll be at Silverstone next weekend and hoping for better results.”
The second round of the Blancpain Endurance Series is at Silverstone this weekend, 13 – 14th May and Rob will be in the Strakka Racing #58 car with Come Ledogar and Ben Barnicoat.