11 June, 2017
Bell scores double podium and fastest lap of the weekend in Belgium
Matt Bell came away from the Henderson Insurance Brokers LMP3 Cup Championship round at Spa-Francorchamps with his second win of the season and the fastest lap to his name this weekend.
He came out of the pits in third in Saturday’s first race but session-topping pace and an impressive overtake at Eau Rouge got the No. 3 United Autosports Ligier JS P3 up to the front of the field to take the chequered flag.
Co-driver Tony Wells had started third and soon made his way up to second, but was unable to take the lead as the first of many Safety Car periods were called.
“The whole race was affected by Safety Cars really,” Bell said. “I think Tony had four green flag laps and I had six.
“It was chaotic in the pits because the GT [Cup] cars went in before us, and I came out third in LMP3 but seventh overall.”
Bell moved up one position as the green flag flew after the second Safety Car period, passing the Ecurie Ecosse car with a great move at Eau Rouge.
He then made his way past the second-placed car en route to his second win of the season, while also setting the fastest lap of the weekend in the process.
Wells started on pole in Sunday’s race but came into the pits second after losing time when his brakes locked up.
Bell came out of the pits in second position but struggled to pass for the lead as he had to negotiate traffic from the GT Cup competitors.
“Tony got a good start and built up a three-second gap within a couple of laps,” Bell commented. “The car had been absolutely fantastic [on Saturday] - the best we’ve had it.
“It wasn’t the same [on Sunday] when it was warmer. It was a different car and we were caught out by the hotter weather.”
Bell therefore could only manage a second-place finish on Sunday, but was able to close the gap to three seconds by the end of the race.
Next on the calendar is a pair of Road to Le Mans races as part of the Michelin Le Mans Cup.
The two races on the full Circuit de la Sarthe will take place on Thursday, 15 June and Saturday, 17 June ahead of the 24-hour endurance classic.
“It’s a phenomenal event and the best in the world,” Bell said of Le Mans. “I’m looking forward to getting [my Le Mans Cup co-driver] Jim McGuire up to speed.
“It’s the highlight of the year so we’ll be pushing as hard as possible.”