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Rob Bell helps battle to a top-10 finish at the Nürburgring

7th September 2020

Rob Bell returned to GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup powered by AWS action for round 2 of the calendar at the Nürburgring in Germany. At the wheel of the #69 Optimum Motorsport McLaren 720S GT3, the British driver alongside teammates Joe Osborne and Ollie Wilkinson secured a hard-fought top-10 finish at the end of 6 hours of close action.

On the back of a strong P8-finish at the opening round of the 2020 calendar in Italy, initial pace and setup looked good for the Y.CO-sponsored McLaren during the early sessions of the weekend around the German circuit. Rob’s pace was of particular note at the circuit where, back in 2016, he secured the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup title. This speed carried through to qualifying with Rob proving to be one of the quickest on track across each of the three separate sessions. Looking for a time within the top five, Rob was forced to take avoiding action at the end of his fastest flying lap, but still ended the session in P9. With the average laptimes across the sessions, the #69 would line-up in P21.

Despite each of the sessions ahead of the race being run in the wet, and the race being run in warm sunshine, the setup of the car felt strong. Ollie took the start and did well to avoid contact during a hectic opening lap, with a number of cars involved in incidents at the first corner. By keeping out of trouble in these early stages, Ollie progressed as high up the field as P12 during his double stint, before handing over to Rob at the two-hour mark in P18.

Rob’s experience of the circuit and of the 720S GT3 saw him immediately on the pace and quickly up to P17. Over the course of the 120-minute stint, Rob continued to mount pressure on the leading pack and moved up to P13 before bringing the sole McLaren in to the pitlane for the final driver change to Joe Osborne.

The action continued for the final double stint as Joe maintained the charge for a top-10 position and, at the chequered flag, Joe brought the #69 McLaren home in P11. A post-race penalty then saw the team promoted to a thoroughly deserved P10.

Rob Bell –
“It was great to be back racing at the Nürburgring – it is one of my favourite tracks on the calendar, and we had a really well-balanced car all weekend. The team did a great job all weekend to give us a car which was perfectly set up and the qualifying result of P21 didn’t really do justice to the pace we had. From there, the race was a case of consistency and keeping out of trouble.

“It felt a lot less chaotic than the opening round at Imola, and the track lends itself to more overtaking. With the pace we had, a strong opening stint by Ollie who did well to stay out of trouble, and then Joe and I just running our own races with a strong strategy from the team, it was a really strong weekend.”

Round 3 of the season heads to the famous Ardennes Forest over the weekend 23-24 October for the headline event of the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup powered by AWS calendar – the Total 24 Hours of Spa.