Back on the podium for Rob Bell at Snetterton
20th June 2023
It was back to British GT action for Rob Bell at the weekend, as the championship travelled to Snetterton for the second double header of the season. Rejoining Mark Radcliffe and the Optimum Motorsport team, the #27 McLaren crew was immediately on the pace to score a second series podium finish, as the pair combined to score more important championship points in the opening race.
Fresh from victory and a P2 finish a week earlier in GT Cup at the Norfolk circuit, Rob and Mark combined well in the opening sessions of the weekend to put the orange, white and black #27 McLaren 720S GT3 near the front of the field. A very impressive opening qualifying for Mark then followed, setting the grid for Race 1. After setting purple sectors in the opening minutes of the session, Mark pushed again, holding on to P3, and his best qualifying result of the season, as the session ended. The second qualifying run then pitted the Pro drivers against each other, and Rob initially ran quickest. The session continued to see the times improve as more rubber was laid and tyres came up to temperature. At the session’s conclusion, the top 14 cars were split by less than 1-second, with the #27 taking P12.
A hectic opening lap saw the order at the front of the field reshuffled, and Mark dropped down the order slightly as things gradually calmed down. Despite the setback, he continued to fight hard, defending well from behind and keeping in contention with the cars ahead. As the pit window opened, the #27 was running in P7, but with a clean stop by the Optimum Motorsport team sent Rob on his way, leaving the pitlane back in the podium spots. From here, Rob kept up the pressure to the cars ahead while maintaining the gap to those behind, to cross the line for more Snetterton silverware – a third trophy in a week.
A change to the grid before Race 2 moved Rob forward a position, and this momentum was continued as the second 60-minute sprint got underway. A move for position put the #27 McLaren back into the top-10, and Rob worked to chase down the gap to the cars ahead as the clock ticked down. With the podium finish from earlier in the day, the team served its success penalty at the pitstop as Mark took over, only dropping one position as he headed back out. From here, Rob watched on as Mark worked hard to maintain his position and make a move back into the top-10. With action unfolding in the lead group, Mark was in a strong position to take advantage of any errors, but as the race came to a conclusion, the Optimum Motorsport crew came home in P11.
“It has been a good week! Great to be back on the podium, and to get our second top-3 of the season. The second qualifying session put us a little out of position, and then things were compounded with the success penalty, but pace was strong all weekend, and Mark really showed what he can do during qualifying and that opening stint. He set things up brilliantly for my stint, and I’m really pleased we could take home a trophy after all the hard work by him and the team. Really looking forward to the next round now as we head to Portimao, and seeing what we can do over the longer race distance.”