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Hockenheim debut brought to an early end after incident

5th September 2022

It was a disappointing early end to the latest round of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS for Rob Bell and the JOTA team at Hockenheim, after a high-speed impact caused race-ending damage. Rob had made a strong start to the 3-hour endurance event over the opening corners on the opening lap, before the #38 JOTA entry was forced off track. Thankfully, Rob walked away uninjured from incident – all credit to the carbon fibre safety cell of his #38 McLaren 720S GT3.

The team was back in action after the strong result at the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa, where Rob and his endurance teammates Marvin Kirchofer and Ollie Wilkinson had finished in the top 8. Arriving at the famous German circuit, it was a debut for the JOTA squad, and a first visit for Rob. An extremely wet free practice session was an additional challenge as the team and drivers got to grips with the 4.5km circuit, and improvements continued to be made over the pre-qualifying session where the top 34 cars were covered by less than one second.

Another closely fought qualifying session on Sunday morning saw the #38 McLaren firmly in the fight with Rob running in the opening session. Pace looked solid as Ollie and Marvin followed, and the sessions ended with the trio in P17 of the 49-car grid.

Later that day, Rob lined up for the opening stint, looking to make early progress off the start. Within the first few corners, Rob had moved up the order and was just outside the top-10 by turn 7 before being tagged from behind by a recovering Lamborghini as it made its way back on track, defending from cars behind. The resulting contact sent Rob into a spin, before hitting the wall.

“A really disappointing early end to the weekend, but the main thing is I’m fine as the car’s carbon fibre safety cell did its job perfectly. We had put ourselves in a strong position after qualifying, and the car felt good in those opening few corners which meant I was able to make up some early positions. We could have been on for another top-10, but it wasn’t to be.

“It certainly wasn’t the debut visit to Hockenheim we had hoped for, but the team had proved that we were in the mix to fight at the sharp end.”