23 July, 2018
Matt Bell and his United Autosports team mate Jim McGuire finished Saturday’s Michelin Le Mans Cup race at Austria’s Red Bull Ring in ninth place. This is the duo’s best result of the Le Mans Cup series so far this year.
As usual the amateur driver qualifies the car and starts the race and this time McGuire put the #22 Ligier JS P3 on the grid in 17thposition. The race then had to be started behind the safety car due to a sudden thunderstorm while the cars were on the grid.
“That was Jim’s first go in the car in the wet,” said Bell. “That gave him a lot to learn but after a couple of laps he got into the rhythm and was doing great, even making up a couple of places. The track then dried up very quickly - quicker than I’ve ever seen before – so there was then a tricky transition period but by the end of the stint he was right back on the pace.”
McGuire pitted from 16thto hand over to Bell who jumped in and set off after the pack. He made good progress and by the end was reeling in fellow United Autosports driver, Colin Braun, but before he could catch him the chequered flag fell and he crossed the line in ninth place.
“We’re happy with that result as we had a good, mistake-free weekend,” said Bell. “We can move forward from here and continue to make progress as the season goes on.”
EUROPEAN LE MANS SERIES PROVIDES STARK CONTRAST FOR BELL
The following day was dedicated to European Le Mans Series action at the Red Bull Ring and Bell was hopeful of another top result in the four-hour race but ultimately had to settle for 12thplace after a series of problems.
“It was frustrating from start to finish unfortunately,” said Bell. “I qualified the car and all I could get out of it was 10thplace, which is not where I expected to be. There’s something wrong that we can’t seem to put our fingers on.”
Garrett Grist started the race before handing over to Bell in a healthy fourth place.
“I think we could have finished there but in the final stint Tony (Wells) got hit by a LMP2 car and then we were unlucky with the final Full Course Yellow coming a lap after we pitted for our final stop and then we had to do an extra stop after Tony had a small off.
“We’ve got a lot of homework to do to work out what is wrong,” he concluded. “Everything went well from a team point of view and United Autosports is a championship-winning team so this is uncharacteristic for us. We need to get to the bottom of our European Le Mans Series struggles but we are all focused on this so I’m convinced we’ll turn it around quickly!”