Scorching Win for Rob Bell in Germany
18th August 2008
Leading British sportscar driver, Rob Bell, with team mate Gimmy Bruni and the Virgo Motorsport team defied the odds to win at the Le Mans Series weekend in Nurburgring, Germany this weekend. A fuel leak fire during Friday practice caused extensive damage to the team’s Ferrari F430 GT car, resulting in a race against time to make the grid for yesterday’s 1000km race. Not only did the hard work of the team ensure that they were ready for the start, but Bell and Bruni then put in a scorching performance to take class victory.
Friday began with a customary top of the class session for Bell and Bruni and the duo looked set to keep ahead in the lead up to the race, however on Bell’s second lap of the second session a suspected fuel leak engulfed the rear of the car with flames and Bell wisely headed for the fire marshall’s post.
Bell said of the incident, “Alarms went off and I started to lose power, then I smelt smoke and could see the flames, so I thought I’d better get off the track and out of the car. We thought our weekend was over and that the car wouldn’t be repairable in time, but the Virgo Motorsport boys did an outstanding job. I think they only had about nine or ten hours sleep the whole weekend, it was a great effort to get the car back out for the race.”
Needless to say, the car was sidelined for the final practice and qualifying sessions, with the Virgo Motorsport crew working tirelessly to rebuild the Ferrari. Their efforts were valiant and the car was out for warm-up before the race, with both drivers happy with the car and ready to battle through the field in the race. They demonstrated that the unfortunate incident had not hampered their race chances as they finished the session fastest of the GT2 cars.
Bruni started the race from the pit lane, but he wasn’t prepared to hang around at the back. Within ten laps he had moved up to fourth in class, and was lapping quicker than all the other GT2 competitors. Bell’s team mate finally took the lead of the class halfway through his stint, and handed over to Bell with a 25 second head start on the second placed GT2 Porsche. Both drivers were setting the fastest laps of their class during the race, proving just how much race pace they had, despite conserving fuel. After over five hours of hard racing, the Virgo Motorsport came home to victory, nearly two laps ahead of the nearest competition; an outstanding end to one of the most challenging weekends.
Bell said of the race, “Being able to line up for the start of the race was an achievement in itself and I’d like to congratulate the Virgo Motorsport crew on a fantastic job. To finish the race was another achievement, but to win as well really capped it all. We overcame adversity and won through, which made the victory even more special – but I wouldn’t want to do it like that every time!
“We had awesome pace, just three tenths off the qualifying pole in GT2, so I reckon we might have taken pole if we’d been there. Despite conserving fuel we were lapping around a second quicker than everyone else and the car felt really good, so it was a great result for us.
“The championship is not yet decided, although we’re three points ahead of the Porsche that’s in second as we head to the last round in Silverstone. We could finish second to the Porsche and still win, so we have a slight advantage and the pressure’s on them. We’ll be taking the fight to them that’s for sure.”
Bell returns to racing action in the FIA GT Championship, with the CR Scuderia team in Bucharest next weekend.