Top-10 finish signs off 2022 GT World Challenge Europe campaign for Rob Bell
3rd October 2022
The 2022 Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS concluded at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya over the weekend, and McLaren Factory Driver Rob Bell finished in 10th place at the wheel of the JOTA Sport McLaren 720S GT3. The result saw the team as the best-placed McLaren in the three-hour encounter, and the third top-10 result of the season for Rob, alongside teammates Marvin Kirchhöfer and Ollie Wilkinson.
Rob returned to action following the first lap incident during last month’s GT World Challenge event at Hockenheim which saw an early end to the race. The team worked through a test programme in the early sessions, making strong progress to move up the order as preparations were made for the final qualifying sessions of the year.
The first of the sessions saw Rob take to the track in the green, red, and black JOTA Sport entry. The experienced Factory Driver completed one flying lap during the quickfire shootout, immediately on the pace and ended the session in an impressive 8th place. Ollie and Marvin had to battle with traffic during their qualifying runs, but the #38 McLaren would line-up 11th on the grid.
A change to the team strategy from previous events saw Ollie take the race start, and he maintained position as the 48-car grid navigated the busy first laps. He continued to absorb extensive pressure over the remainder of the opening stint, only briefly dropping two positions before fighting back to regain one of the lost places shortly before pitting.
In a bid to clear traffic, JOTA looked to switch the strategy again, and were one of the first to pit for the first driver change. Rob took on the middle stint and lay in a nett 13th place as the pitstops played out, and was one of the quickest cars on track as he chased down the top-10. Posting the car’s fastest lap of the race in the early stages of his stint, Rob went on to make two passes of fellow McLaren customer team entries, and eventually concluded this year’s championship effort, handing over to Marvin firmly in the fight for the final points paying position.
With a shift in the order during the pitstops, the race’s sole Safety Car intervention would close the field back up during the final stint. A strong restart by Marvin moved JOTA back up to 11th, and then the young German proceeded to chase down the gap ahead, making the pass for 10th in the final laps. At the line, the #38 JOTA McLaren signed off the season with the final champiomnship point – the third top-10 result of the year – and the honour of the best-performing McLaren entry against a stellar grid.
“It has been a tough season, and results haven’t always gone our way, but it is a real credit to the team to finish in the points today and to end the season on a high. The whole JOTA team has worked hard to keep moving forwards all season, and we have achieved some great results – not least the season-best finish at the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa over the summer. We have pitched ourselves against the best in the world, and can certainly be proud of the results we have collectively achieved, and hopefully we can build on this and look at how we can keep improving for next season.”