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Important championship points at Donington Park for Rob Bell

30th May 2023

Rob Bell was back in action for the latest round of the British GT Championship, as the calendar visited Donington Park. A further top-10 result earnt more important championship points with teammate Mark Radcliffe, as the pair brought the Optimum Motorsport McLaren 720S GT3 home in P8.

A difficult qualifying would put the pair on the back foot for the weekend, but the pair delivered strong race performances across the two-hours to climb the order. Mark ended the first run in P13, while Rob’s times in the Pro session moved him inside the top-10 of a very competitive field. The combined qualifying times put the pair on the sixth row of the grid, in P12, and looking to repeat the effort of the last race which saw several places gained.

Rob watched on as Mark got the race underway, and the #27 McLaren made immediate moves off the start to move up the order. As the grid battled hard in the opening corners, the order gradually settled, and Mark was running strongly inside the top 10. After inheriting a further position as the lead pack continued to battle, Mark ran as high as P8, fighting with the Mercedes-AMG of reigning champion Ian Loggie. This charge was suspended at 25-minutes when the McLaren made contact with a damaged Lamborghini, forcing an unscheduled visit to the pitlane, losing a lap to the leaders and dropping back to P10.

As the race continued, the pit window opened as the Safety Car was scrambled, bringing the race under caution conditions. Rob took over, joining the track and making an immediate impact after the restart to move back up to P9. From here, the McLaren Factory Driver showed pace in-line with the front runners, closing the gap to the cars ahead, but out of overall contention due to the earlier unplanned stop.  Rob ran a cleanly for the final stint, and stayed out of trouble as two cars in the pack ahead made heavy contact. The resulting damage saw one forced to retire, while Rob made his way through and gained a further position before the run to the line.

As the race came to a conclusion, Rob brought the #27 McLaren home in a hard fought P8, scoring six important championship points for the team and the driver standings. After four rounds, Rob sits in P7 alongside Mark, while Optimum Motorsport are in P6.

“It was good to score points, and we definitely had the pace for a strong result, so it was a case of damage limitation after a difficult qualifying and then early contact. Mark made another great start, and made up several positions in the opening laps, but we were just unlucky really. The team did a great job all weekend, they got us back out on track quickly, and we were definitely on the pace. It was good fun battling our way through the traffic, and it meant we could just run our own race. We were limited on what we could achieve at that stage, but we maximised every step, and P8 was the best we could have done. Focus is now on Snetterton, and we will come back stronger and looking to get back on the podium.”