Rob Bell completes LeMans preseason test
The Le Mans Series test at Paul Ricard earlier this week was the final opportunity for Rob Bell and his teammate, Gianmaria Bruni, to prepare for the 2008 season with Virgo Motorsport. Although running with their current Ferrari 430 model, the duo were second quickest at the French circuit.
The two day test featured 34 cars which will compete in the European sportscar championship, with a healthy mix of models from the different categories within the Series. Virgo Motorsport ran its 2007 specification Ferrari for the test, with the new car expected to be ready for the first race next month.
Bell said of the test, “We’re comfortable with our performance in this test. We were running the ’07 car with a high mileage engine, yet we were only a tenth off the new Porsche. We’re losing out on the straights, about 12kph, and it was a 1.8km straight at Ricard, so we weren’t surprised to be behind our title rivals, but I think we’re going to be a match for the Porsche once we’ve got our new car. We also had plenty of time to test different tire options and continue our learning process ready for Spain.
“A tenth isn’t much to find, but we know the Porsche is good on the straights, while we often have the advantage through the corners. I think both Ferrari and Porsche have made steps forward, so it’s going to be more very close racing in the GT2 class. We’re definitely going to be tough competition and feeling very confident ahead of the first race weekend.”
Bell crosses the Atlantic this week and heads to Florida for the Sebring 12 Hour race with Tafel Racing. It will be the first time that the Newcastle racer has experienced this event, one of the blue-riband endurance races in the USA. He returns to the Virgo Motorsport Ferrari at the beginning of April for the opening round of the Le Mans Series which takes place at Barcelona, from 4 – 6 April.
It is a busy sportscar season for Bell this year. He will combine a full season of Le Mans Series with Virgo Motorsport, with the FIA GT championship in the CR Scuderia squad, as well as one-off races such as Sebring 12 hours with Tafel Racing and Le Mans 24 Hour race with Virgo Motorsport.