Rob Bell Racing on Instagram


Tough fight to the end in Barcelona for Rob Bell

11th October 2021

A determined effort by Rob Bell and JOTA saw the team conclude the 2021 Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Alongside teammates Ben Barnicoat and Ollie Wilkinson, Rob battled against a 46-car field to sign off the season, crossing the line in P13 at the end of the three-hour battle.

The team arrived at the Catalunya venue having shown race-winning pace with the #38 McLaren, looking to end the season on a high. However, the trio of McLaren Factory Drivers found themselves engaged in a fight from the first session as they looked to overcome a lack of grip which plagued many teams across the weekend. Qualifying saw all three drivers still having to work hard to get the best out of the tyres, which each struggling to get the optimum performance over the one timed lap. Rob posted the car’s quickest time during the third session and the combined laptime put them firmly mid-pack, starting from P25.

The opening laps of the 180-minute event were as full of action and chaos as many of the championship’s races have been this year. A relatively busy but clean opening lap saw the #38 progress up the order with Ben running firmly inside the top-20. The close action saw various contact over the following laps, however, which saw cars off track and the Safety car scrambled.

At the end of the opening stint, the sole McLaren entry had moved up 12 positions on merit, and with a longer opening stint further positions were gained as the leading crews chose to stop earlier. As the pitstop window closed, Ollie took over and was running well, hustling for position while being forced to defend hard throughout the entire duration of his stint. As the second hour drew to a close, the red, white and green 720S GT3 arrived in the pitlane running in P16.

Rob returned to the track to complete the final stint of the season, and he wasted no time in getting up to speed. With the car working better in race trim than during the earlier qualifying session, he moved up the order taking three positions in less than 15 minutes. Shortly after this, the race returned to the close battles and slightly frantic scenes seen at the start with Full Course Yellow periods and Safety Car interruptions. As the clock reached the final 20 minutes, Rob was closing the gap to the cars ahead by nearly half a second per lap, and shortly after was able to make a final move for position. A final Safety Car appearance in the dying minutes set up further drama and a grandstand finish to what has been an action-packed season of endurance racing. With his extensive experience, Rob swiftly managed the final restart and brought the #38 JOTA McLaren home to secure a hard-fought P13.

“We gave it everything we had this weekend, but we were on the back foot in qualifying as we just couldn’t get the best out of the tyres. We were struggling for grip, and it had an impact on our pace, but we were more confident going into the race that we had the setup over the longer stints. Ben and Ollie did a great job to hand the car over still in the fight, and I really enjoyed that final hour. We had some great battles, and JOTA have given us a strong car – as they have all season. A big thank you to each member of the team, and to McLaren Customer Racing for a really great year. We haven’t got the results that we hoped for, or deserved, but we have got stronger with each event, and we have progressed a huge amount since the opening round in Monza. It is great to be able to showcase the 720S GT3 against the best in the world, and to be fighting to the end.”

Next up for Rob is the Indianapolis 8 Hours, next weekend 15-17 October, as he takes on the next round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge alongside Ben Barnicoat and Paul Holton as part of the Crucial Motorsports team.