03 July, 2017
Round four of the 2017 International GT Open Series produced two top ten finishes for Rob Bell, a McLaren Factory Driver racing with Balfe Motorsport in this championship. Sharing the Balfe Motorsport McLaren 650S GT3 with Shaun Balfe, the duo produced a fourth place class finish in the first race and a seventh place class finish in the second race at the Hungaroring circuit.
The weekend began on Friday with two free practice sessions with Rob and Shaun reacquainting themselves with the track and developing the car set up for qualifying. Shaun also drove in the Bronze test session, posting fifth fastest time.
Rob drove in the first qualifying session, finishing 11th quickest overall and fourth in the PRO AM Class, with a sixth row start for the first race. The McLaren Factory Driver was disappointed to have had his best lap deleted for exceeding track limits, denying him a fifth place grid position, although this was a contentious decision as camera footage showed two wheels just on the white line.
Rob put qualifying behind him and took the start for the first race and was quickly in the mix, moving up to eighth off the grid, then moving up to seventh, pitting from sixth at half distance. After the mandatory driver change pitstops, Shaun exited the pits in sixth place. The race settles but comes alive in the closing stages with the front runners jostling and lapping cars presents opportunities and some contact, with Shaun caught up in the melee and losing a couple of spots, finally crossing the line in tenth place overall, fourth in class.
Shaun was behind the wheel of the Balfe Motorsport McLaren for qualifying for the second race, posting 20th fastest lap and a tenth row grid slot. He then took the start for the race and was able to stay out of the opening lap melee and settled into the race. Rob took over at half distance, moving further up the order and crossing the finish line 13th overall, seventh in class.
Rob said of the weekend, “We had a positive weekend, but not the best one, with the heat and the technically challenging track giving the McLaren 650S a bit of a battle. We were up there with the other McLarens with our pace, but this weekend it was the turn of BMW and Lamborghini to take the wins. We’re still second in the PRO AM standings and just two points behind the leaders, so our strong finishes have definitely kept us in the hunt for the title”.
Rob heads to Spa for the Blancpain Endurance Series 24 Hours test tomorrow, with the 24 hour event taking place at the end of the month.