Top-6 for Rob Bell as Asian Le Mans Series reaches mid-point in Dubai
5th February 2024
Another strong showing by Rob Bell and the #27 Optimum Motorsport crew saw a P6 finish at Round 3 of the Asian Le Mans Series. With the single race taking place at the Dubai Autodrome, the team fought back from an early setback to climb the order, back into the top-10 and on to score important championship points heading to the double header season finale.
The #27 line up of Rob, Ollie Millroy and Mark Radcliff remained unchanged from their podium result at the previous outing, in Sepang, and pace looked good as the team prepared for the weekend. Pace continued to improve across the practice sessions, and a solid qualifying by Mark kept the purple and white McLaren in the hunt for a top-10 gridslot. Laptimes continued to improve across the session, eventually ending the session on the fourth row of the GT grid, in P8.
A chaotic start saw the #27 gain two positions immediately, before a multi-car incident including race-ending contact for the sister Optimum Motorsport car brought out the Safety Car. On the restart, Mark maintained position, and continued to show good pace as the race reached the first hour. The pitstop cycle played out, and the team chose track position, running longer than the lead group to promote the #27 to the race lead before the first stop. Maintaining a top-10 position after the stops, the team continued to make further progress, before contact during an overtake was reprimanded with a drive-through penalty.
Despite the setback, and now dropped down the order, the whole team remained focus, and Ollie took over for the middle section of the race. Strong progress saw the #27 continue to climb back up the order, and as the Safety Car reappeared with little over an hour remaining, pace looked strong running in P9.
As the track returned to green flag running, with just over an hour remaining, the majority of the GT field took to the pitlane for the final scheduled stop. Rob took over for the final stint, and delivered a characteristically quick drive to make further advances. Quick work by the pitcrew put him in a strong position as he headed out on track, and he continued to progress up the order, crossing the line in P6 as the chequered flag fell.
“A really strong result, and probably better than we expected, but really pleased to claim a top 6. The team did a great job all weekend, and we were unfortunate to get hit with the drive-through, but we stayed clear of the early chaos, and ran our own race to keep ourselves in the hunt throughout the full four hours. We have one more weekend to go, and we are making big steps forward on each session, so hopefully we can end the season on a high with another strong weekend.”
The result continues to build momentum for the team, scoring important championship points heading into the Asian Le Mans Series season finale. The double-header at Yas Marina, Abu Dhabi, takes place next weekend, 10-11 February.