Bell Starts with Podium at Monza
19th April 2007
Rob Bell helped the Virgo Motorsport team to match its best result in the Le Mans Series at Monza as he and Allan Simonsen secured a third place finish in the GT2 class in Italy.
The pair produced a strong weekend from the start, consistently featuring in the top ten of the practice sessions and qualifying in sixth place for the 1000km, six hour endurance race in the Ferrari 430GT.
Simonsen took the start for the race and maintained the team's sixth place in the opening laps. An early Safety Car period was an opportunity for the team to refuel, but on entry to the stop a rival team came in ahead of the Virgo Motorsport entry – blocking Simonsen from accessing his garage area, delaying the fuelling process and meaning that the Dane exited the pits behind the Safety Car, going a lap down in the process.
"As I came out of pitlane the leading GT2 car had just made it out before the safety car and I got stuck and they didn't,” he said. “That's where the race was won.”
Undeterred Bell and Simonsen chased their GT2 rivals throughout the six hours of running and clawed their way back into a podium finishing position. The team finished a well-deserved third at the chequered flag, just 44 seconds behind their rivals.
“Our pitstop under the Safety Car was our downfall today,” Bell reflected. “It's just one of those things that happen, but it was very costly for us, as we lost about 90 seconds, and as we were less than a minute behind the leaders, the win could have been ours today. Once it had happened, and it was in the first half hour of the race, we had quite a mountain to climb. We didn't lose heart though, with both Allan and myself up on the pace and turning consistently quick laps to narrow the gap to the second placed team.
"Considering this setback, we did really well to finish on the podium. This race has proved we have the pace to win. We didn't know how well our tyres were going to perform against the competition, but Dunlop has come up trumps and tyres don't seem to be a factor in performance, there's a variety of different makes, but it seems to be a level playing field as far as rubber is concerned."