30 October, 2017
McLaren GT Factory Driver, Rob Bell, celebrated an emphatic championship title this weekend, with Rob and team mate Shaun Balfe taking the PROAM crown in the International GT Open Series with the Balfe Motorsport McLaren 650S GT3. The duo sealed the victory with two podium finishes at the final round of the championship at the Catalunya circuit in Barcelona.
The weekend began with a test day and a chance for Rob and Shaun to develop the car set up for the races ahead. Friday morning practice was delayed due to fog, but when this lifted, the sun shone and there was plenty of dry running for the McLaren 650S GT3. Saturday morning started with qualifying for the first race, with Rob in the driving seat for this session. By the end of the session he had posted eighth fastest lap overall, second in the PROAM Class, to line up on the fourth row of the grid for the start of the first race.
Rob made a strong start, bagging sixth in the first lap and was then up to fifth, before the driver change pit stops. Rob stayed out on track until the end of the pitstop window, handing the car over to Shaun for the second half of the race. Shaun had to battle hard with the team’s only championship rival and with a great stint, Shaun came out on top, crossing the finish line in 10th place and wrapping up the title.
Shaun was behind the wheel for the second race qualifying session, struggling with traffic on his hot laps, so he had to settle for 11th quickest PROAM lap and 20th overall. He took the start for the race and was able to improve to 17th by the end of the first lap. As the race settled he gained a few more places before pitting for Rob to complete the race. Rob was quickly into his stride and picking off rivals, moving up to 11th place overall and third in class by the chequered flag, although the duo finally finished in second place after post-race penalties for the second placed car.
Rob reflected, “I’ve had a brilliant season with Shaun and the Balfe Motorsport team, a great bunch of guys that have worked so hard and really deserve this success. It hasn’t been an easy championship to win, there’s been so much very strong competition, so that makes it all the better to have beaten them all.
“For me, I’ve enjoyed being a regular podium visitor in the PROAM Class of GT Open and to play a role in the team’s success and as a McLaren GT factory driver, it’s very rewarding to see the car perform to its potential in this series and secure victory with one of McLaren GT’s customer teams.”