Rob Bell Survives Tough Sebring to Take Seventh
16th March 2008
Rob Bell took his first Sebring 12 Hours start yesterday, and after one of the toughest endurance races with plenty of dramas and incidents, he finished in seventh place. Driving with Tafel Racing and partnering with Dominik Farnbacher and Dirk Mueller in the No. 71 Ferrari 430 GT2 race car.
After only 30 minutes of racing the Ferrari ran into problems after the car had run over debris which damaged the front splitter and the radiator, with both needing lengthy repairs. The Tafel Racing crew were quickly at work and were able to return the car to the track although having been in the pits for 31 laps, the team knew that there was a mountain to climb for a podium finish, but a strong points result was an attainable goal. Further pitstops to finish the repair work dropped the team further down the order and it was an uphill battle for Bell and his trio throughout the race.
Returning at the back of the field the team continued on, consisitently lapping on the pace of the class front runners, and making up ground over the course of the race, with the team sitting in eighth at the close of the tenth hour. In the final hour of running the team made up a further place, to cross the line in seventh after after an arduous twelve hours of racing.
Bell said of his Sebring debut, “It was a very tough race, probably the toughest that I’ve experienced, especially after our early race problems which left us knowing that the best we could do would be to race for ALMS points. After only an hour we were playing catch up and doing a double stint in the heat of Sebring was very difficult. Being in the car for around two and a quarter hours is a real challenge. On a positive note, we were able to put in good lap times, similar to the GT2 class leaders, and I really enjoyed the whole event”.
“The win was there to be taken in Sebring, especially after the class leaders crashed out, but our early problems put us out of contention. I’m pleased we reached the chequered flag and Tafel Racing were able to take away championship points at the start of the season. For me, it’s back to Europe now.”
Bell debuted in the 24 Hours of Le Mans race last year and added the Sebring 12 Hours to his roll call of sportscar events this season. One of the leading young British sportscar drivers, Bell was recently awarded The Dailysportscar European Driver of the Year accolade from the foremost sportscar racing website just prior to the Sebring race. The website team said of Bell, “As fast as anyone out there (and faster than most). Always with time to explain, always a great ambassador for his team and the sport as a whole,” “Very talented, very quick”, “Superb. Consistent performances netting a well-deserved title.” “Amenable, charming, bloody quick, the absolute professional – and a credit to sportscar racing”
Bell returns to sportscar racing action in Europe as he prepares to contest the Le Mans Series with Virgo Motorsport and the FIA GT championship with CR Scuderia.