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Bell and New Team Continue Learning Curve

19th May 2008

Rob Bell and the new FIA GT team, CR Scuderia, continued the learning curve in the second round of the Championship at Monza this weekend, with a seventh place finish after two hours of hard racing.

The Italian weather played a major role in the preparations for the endurance race with different conditions for each session making it difficult for the team to develop the best set up for the Ferrari 430 GT racer.

The first sessions were held on a wet, but drying, track and although the team were out in practice preparing for the race, the changing nature of the tarmac produced limited relevant data for the team. For the second session it was raining, but the team were keen to preserve their wet tyres in case of rain for the race, so running was restricted.

For qualifying conditions had changed again, with dry weather and a dry track to start the session, but rain later. Bell had been at the circuit two weeks previously with the Le Mans Series, driving the Virgo Motorsport Ferrari and on that occasion set pole for his class. With this recent experience the Newcastle-born race driver hoped to be challenging for the P1 starting position this weekend, but he quickly realised it wouldn’t be easy.

“We were struggling in the braking zones,” said Bell. “We’re running with different brakes and tyres than I ran with in the Le Mans Series, and are up against different teams than that series, whilst CR Scuderia is in its first season of competition, and the team is still developing, so I’m not surprised that we’re not yet up there. Although I came here aiming to repeat my success of two weeks ago, I also knew how big a challenge that would be. The weather didn’t help either, as we didn’t have any dry running data for this package before qualifying, so that made it difficult.”

Lining up sixth in class, Bell and team mate, Andrew Kirkaldy, were ready for a tough battle. The greasy, low grip, low downforce track gave the pairing the challenge they expected, particularly under braking, and both this experienced duo and the CR Scuderia sister car drivers all reported struggling in the braking zones. However Bell and Kirkaldy persevered and while racing hard, were able to gain valuable data and experience of the Ferrari at this type of track. It was a creditable seventh place finish at the chequered flag for the duo, with the second CR Scuderia close behind in eighth.

Bell said of his Monza outing, “We were running with high downforce to compensate for the expected wet weather, but it stayed dry, so we struggled with straight line speed which is critical at this track. But we’re a new team, we’re learning quickly and we’ll be back stronger with the lessons we’ve learnt here.”

Bell returns to the track with Virgo Motorsport, travelling to the famed Le Mans circuit for the official test day, ahead of the 24 Hour race on 14/15th June.