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Rob Bell First to Break Four Minutes with GT2 Ferrari

13th June 2008

Rob Bell produced the first sub-four minutes lap time in a GT2 Ferrari in Le Mans 24 Hour race qualifying yesterday. Driving the Virgo Motorsport Ferrari Bell posted a 3:59.82 lap in the second of the two qualifying sessions ahead of the legendary endurance race this weekend.

Bell partners with Tim Sugden and Tim Mullen in the Ferrari 430 GT2 sportscars and runs with Virgo Motorsport, a team which is making its Le Mans 24 Hour race debut this year. Bell had his first taste of this unique event last year, finishing fifth, and is hoping to improve on this result with the Ferrari.

Bell says of breaking the 4 minutes barrier, “I’m really pleased to have broken the record for a GT2 Ferrari here. No one has ever set a lap time under 4 minutes with this car, so it is a significant achievement, made a little more sweeter by beating the Risi car, which is close to being a factory entry. This car, the nearest Ferrari to us was over 1.5 seconds off us, so it was a great effort by our team.

“For me personally, it’s great to be the top Ferrari driver. We had a good qualifying run with the Dunlops working really well, but Porsche seem to have pulled something out of the bag and were unbeatable in qualifying. I don’t know whether they were running a qualifying engine, but if that’s the case, it’s perhaps not surprising to be pipped by them, as we were running with our race package.

“Our prospects for the race remain good despite the advantage that Porsche seem to have. We have a really strong driver line-up, a great car and an excellent team behind us, so we’re set to take the fight to the Porsches.”

The race build up began on Wednesday with the first two qualifying sessions. It quickly became clear that the Porsche had the edge on the Ferrari with their straight line speed, with the first two positions in GT2 taken by the German manufacturer and Virgo Motorsport third quickest. The positions remained the same after the second session. Yesterday the final two qualifying sessions produced plenty of tight battles in GT2 and it was in the second session that Bell dipped under four minutes, although the lap time still left two Porsches ahead on the GT2 grid.

Today the team prepares for tomorrow’s race action, while the drivers take centre stage with a parade in the Le Mans town centre. Track action returns on Saturday morning with a 45 minutes warm up session at 9am local time. The race will start at 3pm local time (2pm in the UK).