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Double Victory for Bell in Bucharest

25th August 2008

Rob Bell stood on the top step of the podium for both FIA GT races at Bucharest this weekend, with the British driver and his team mate, Andrew Kirkaldy, taking victory in the GT2 class for both races held at the street circuit in Romania, the first victories of the season for the CR Scuderia Ferrari F430 FIA GT team.

Following the previous FIA GT round at Spa, racing over 24 hours, the Bucharest event was a complete contrast, with two one hour races for this leading sportscar championship. With temperatures soaring close to 40ºC, Bell was relieved to be driving for only 30 minutes in each race, saying, “After half an hour I was glad to be getting out of the car, it was absolutely stifling heat, a real sauna!”

The lead up to the races gave Bell the chance to familiarise himself with the circuit, and team mate Kirkaldy qualified the car in second place for the first race. Bell was behind the wheel for the green flag and made a blinding start to take the lead before the first corner. He withstood the pressure from the chasing pack to hand over to Kirkaldy from the lead after 25 minutes. After the pitstops Kirkaldy had dropped to third place, but he fought back, soon taking second place then passing the leader to take the CR Scuderia team’s first FIA GT victory of the season.

The No. 56 sat on pole for the second race with Bell driving the first stint once again. Although he was off the line well for the start he lost the lead in the melee of the first corner to sit in third by the end of the opening lap. With the tight, unforgiving street circuit and the high temperatures inside the car Bell wisely left a gap to the lead two cars to run in clean air, closing up as he reached the handover to team mate, Kirkaldy. An excellent pitstop by the CR Scuderia crew put Kirkaldy back out in second and he started to hunt down the leader, Gimmi Bruni, chasing the team’s second victory of the weekend. In the last few minutes of the race Bell’s team mate finally made the pass on his rival to take the lead and the chequered flag.

Bell said of the weekend, “Two great results for the CR Scuderia team. Everyone has worked hard for these and they are well deserved. We worked on pitstop practice between the two races and that paid dividends. I didn’t have the best start for the second race, and the Porsche is difficult to pass as it’s quicker in different places than the Ferrari. I didn’t want to take any gambles either, especially on a street track where a small mistake can be very expensive and put you out of the race completely. But in both races we were able to beat all our rivals, so it’s been a fantastic weekend, and a great feeling to taste victory for the first time this season in FIA GT.”

Bell’s racing programme continues next weekend with another trip to the USA, with the Brit joining Rizi Competizione for the Detroit round of the ALMS.