Bell Rejoins Team LNT for Le Mans
2nd May 2007
Having driven for the team in the Le Mans Series last season, Rob Bell is to rejoin Team LNT for the 2007 Le Mans 24 Hours – marking the first time that the 27-year-old will have competed in the famous French classic.
Bell took victory in the final two rounds of the 2006 season in the GT2 class Panoz Esperante alongside Warren Hughes, but has moved on to compete for the Virgo Motorsport team for the coming season.
However, with the Ferrari team not competing at La Sarthe this season, Bell will now rejoin defending GT2 champions LNT for the event – extending a relationship with managing director Richard Dean that started when Bell made the switch from karts to cars with Team JLR.
"We would have loved to have had Rob with us for the whole season in the LMS but it wasn't to be so we are delighted to have him back with the LNT family for Le Mans," Dean, who will share the #82 car with Bell and team owner Lawrence Tomlinson, said. "Rob has always wanted to race there and his current team Virgo don't have an entry so we're happy to be able to give him this opportunity."
Bell will test the Panoz after the next round of the Le Mans Series – which takes place next weekend at Valencia – and he admitted that he couldn't wait to compete in the greatest sportscar race of them all for the first time.
"I'm very excited to be racing at Le Mans for the first time this year,” he said. “I've never even been to the La Sartre circuit as a spectator, so I've only watched the race on television. I think the atmosphere and the sheer length of the track are going to be the two elements that will be new to me. It's a unique event, which you can't compare to any other race. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity which I had to take when it was offered, it could be the only chance I have to experience this amazing event.
"When you're in single-seaters your dream is always to be in F1, and in sportscars the jewel in the crown is Le Mans, and since 2005 when I moved into this category it's definitely been a goal for me. The longest race I've done was a nine hour one in USA and that only had an hour of racing in the dark, and with a full night at Le Mans that'll be another new experience for me."
Bell also took the chance to thank both Tomlinson and Dean for the chance to rejoin the team for Le Mans – although he warned that his focus would be on beating the team before then in the second LMS race.
"My thanks go to Lawrence and Richard for putting their faith in me for this big event, and I'm hoping I can repay them with strong racing and a valuable contribution to the team's success,” he said. “When they invited me to drive with them, I didn't feel that I could let it go. It came out of the blue, as I'd only mentioned it in passing some months ago, but I'm very pleased they remembered my ambition.
"My focus at the moment is the next race in Spain, and I'm sure that there will be the competitive spirit there; I'll be out to beat everyone else, including Team LNT!"