Bell Avoids The Whoosh
”I didn’t see anything – just a whoosh of colour as they came past.”

That was SAMAX driver Rob Bell’s description of the leaders of the VIR 400 coming past him on the last lap of Sunday’s Rolex Series race. Normally you would expect a driver to have noticed a little more, but Rob Bell was rather busy at the time….

“I’d been catching the third and fourth place battle in GT with about five laps to go, and I went for the opportunity to pass Wolf Henzler (below) in the Tafel car – but didn’t make it. I lost quite a bit of time there, so I ended up by myself on the track, and so near the end of the race, your mindset changes – you’ve just got to finish the race.

“With one lap to go, they told me over the radio that the leaders were approaching to lap me, but initially I couldn’t see them in my mirrors. Then coming down the back straight, there they were three abreast, flashing their lights at me! I was being told the same thing over the radio, and the last thing I wanted to do was affect the outcome of the race – and to be honest, I committed a bit of a schoolboy error: I missed the fact that there was a corner coming up!

“I could have kept it on the track, but you can’t get in the way of the leaders, so I took the plunge and decided to go onto the grass, which was still pretty wet – so I ended up going a long way off. So all I saw was the whoosh of colour….”

For the moment, that’s Rob Bell’s three-race deal with SAMAX concluded, but “I’m still talking to Peter (Baron) and I’d love to do the whole season in the 997. Peter does a really good job, although I’ve had different partners at every race so far.

“I think it was a last minute deal to have Ian James in the car at Virginia, and although I’d never met him before, he did a really good job (chasing Liddell, below).

"It was nice to have someone quick in the car – and someone who knows Virginia very well. He pointed me in the right direction with some tips about the circuit – which kerbs you can clip and which you can’t, for instance.

“We’ve struggled a little bit when tracks are green, which Virginia was after all that rain on Saturday, but I use Wolf Henzler as my baseline, and I felt I pretty much matched him at Homestead and VIR – maybe their car was a tenth or so quicker, but I think they’ve got the budget to develop it.”

So Laguna Seca next for Rob Bell – or Spa-Francorchamps, in the LNT Panoz (a week later)? We’ll have to wait and see. What a pair of tracks coming up in the Le Mans Series / Grand Am.

There are some challenges ahead in both series – as the LNT Panoz Esperantes take on the Ferrari F430s, and the Porsches take on the TRG Pontiacs in Grand Am.


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