Rob Bell finishes fourth in class at Petit Le Mans 2013
22nd October 2013
Leading sportscar driver, Rob Bell, endured a challenging fifth appearance at Petit Le Mans, at Road Atlanta in the USA last weekend. Unpredictable and changing weather conditions mixed with a number of technical issues contrived to hamper Bell and his team mates' attempt to win. A fourth place finish in the LMP2 Class was the outcome after the 10 hour endurance race, with Rob driving alongside Ed Brown and Johannes van Overbeek in the Extreme Speed Motorsports (ESM) team’s 02 Tequila Patron Honda Performance Development ARX-03b.
Light rain showers just before the start of the race led to teams being given the choice of wet or slick tyres and ESM, along with many other teams, opted for wets for the start. It wasn’t long before the track conditions demanded slicks and Bell’s team mate, van Overbeek, who had started the race and was up to second in class, came in after four laps to change to the dry tyre. An unfortunate pit lane speeding violation resulted in a stop-go penalty for van Overbeek, dropping him back down the field.
Brown took over the car for the next stint and shortly after getting out on track rain started and the 02 driver spun off the track. He was able to continue and limped back to the pits for minor bodywork damage repairs. The team took this opportunity to change to wet tyres. Brown endured a wet and dry stint, finally handing the car over to Bell from fourth in class.
McLaren factory driver, Bell, was just settling into his stride when he lost the car, spinning off track, due to part of the rear suspension failing. He had to limp round nearly a full lap of the Road Atlanta track to get back to the pits for repairs. He was soon back out into the action and completed his stint without further problems. For the remainder of the race Bell shared driving duties with van Overbeek, completing the race, despite a misfire in the closing stages, and finally crossing the finish line fourth in class.
Bell said after the race, “It’s been another challenging Petit Le Mans. These marathon endurance races are always very demanding of the team, car and driver, but when you throw ever changing weather into the mix, it really adds to the test. It’s always an accomplishment to finish a race like this, but as a racer, I’m out there to win, so to miss out on a podium at least, was disappointing.
He adds, “For me it was my first time racing an LMP2 car and I really enjoyed the experience. The broken tow rod incident was a bit of drama I could have done without though. I found myself heading toward the wall and trying to keep it off, but struggling for control. Thankfully I managed to get back on track and round to the pits. All in all, I had a great time with the ESM guys and thank them for the chance to race with them.”
Rob now prepares for his next challenge, a return to Azerbaijan for the City Challenge Baku 2013, driving Hexis Racing’s McLaren MP4-12C GT3 in this unique event.