Rob Bell Wins Le Mans Series GT2 Championship
16th September 2007
A dominant performance by British driver, Rob Bell, aided by team mate Gianmaria Bruni, clinched the GT2 class Le Mans Series Championship for the Virgo Motorsport team at Silverstone today. Bell also takes the GT2 honours in the Drivers championship, a well-deserved reward for his outstanding efforts in this challenging endurance sportscar series.
Bell set out to wrap up the title at the Silverstone round of the Le Mans Series, but it was by no means a foregone conclusion. With only three points separating Virgo Motorsport from a chasing Team Felbrmayer, it was all to play for at the British circuit. A fitting climax for Bell, racing on home soil was always set to be full of drama and excitement. Newcastle-born Bell, although now living close to Silverstone confessed that he hadn’t driven the track before this weekend.
“I’ve driven at this venue many times, but not the Grand Prix configuration, so there’s a few corners that I don’t know. Hopefully, it won’t affect us too much,” said Bell before the weekend. Bell proved his prowess by topping the time sheets in practice and then putting in a masterclass performance for qualifying, taking pole by over a second.
With regular team mate, Allen Simonsen, unavailable for today’s six-hour race, Bruni stepped in to partner with the Brit this weekend. The confidence that the pair showed with their Ferrari 430 GT set the tone for the race, with both drivers driving masterfully and never looking in any doubt of a win.
The six hour endurance race produced much drama, but luckily the Virgo Motorsport team had a smooth, clean race. Both drivers were able to build up healthy leads during their stints, although safety car periods negated much of the dominance at two intervals. The threat of the Team Felbrmayer Porsche was always on Bell’s mind, but with mechanical failure forcing it to retire, the Virgo entry only needed to finish on the podium to clinch the title. The reliability of the Ferrari ensured that not only did the finish on the podium, it was also the top step.
Bell says, “It was a superb weekend. The car ran like clockwork, the Dunlop tyres worked really well, the team showed their strength and depth with faultless pitstops and Gimmy and I were able to take advantage of other’s misfortunes to build an unassailable lead by the end of the six hours. I thought we had a strong chance of winning today, but I didn’t expect to take the title here, I thought it would go to the wire in Brazil. I saw that our title rivals were out of the race after running for over five hours and I was quite excited, but then I had to remind myself that we needed to finish the race, so I kept a lid on my thoughts until the chequered flag!”
The Le Mans Series finale takes place at the Interlagos circuit in Sao Paulo, Brazil on 9 – 11 November this year.