BELL DELIGHTED WITH DESERVED TRIPLE SCORE AT OULTON
Barrow-upon-Humber racer Martyn Bell enjoyed his most successful and rewarding day of the season so far at a packed Oulton Park Island Circuit yesterday, Sunday, 27th July, after recording three back-to-back finishes for Arkas Racing with Sunshine.co.uk during the 19th, 20th and 21st rounds of the HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship.
Bell, who recently celebrated his 44th birthday, also saw his efforts bear fruit in the Independents Team Trophy with three points scores ensuring Arkas Racing -- which is run by Leamington-Spa based Tech-Speed Motorsport -- comfortably maintains eighth place in the standings.
Speaking after the final race, which was watched by 30,000 spectators, Bell said: "I'm really pleased to have secured three good finishes this weekend. Oulton is one of my favourite tracks and I've gained a lot of confidence from this. I'm really looking forward to Knockhill now in three weeks time as it's another circuit I'm a big fan of."
Qualifying with the 21st fastest time for round 19, Bell ended the first of the weekend's encounters in 18th position but much better was to follow in the second race of the day -- round 20 -- where a great start saw him gain several positions.
Unfortunately slipping back before the end of the opening lap, Bell climbed into the top 14 by lap six and then started to reel in Chris Stockton's SEAT Toledo -- by lap 12 he was just six 10ths of a second adrift.
Taking a look into Lodge Corner at the end of the 12th tour, Bell settled back in behind Stockton but into the final lap of the race, lap 15, the Arkas man produced a good pass on the brakes into Old Hall to wrest 13th place away, eighth in the Independents Trophy.
In the last of the day's three rounds, Bell made a terrific start from 13th on the grid and immediately gained a place from Harry Vaulkhard's Chevrolet Lacetti on the run to Old Hall. Bad luck would follow though when he lost out at Knickerbrook Chicane as he tried to negotiate a collision between several front-runners.
Forced to take avoiding action, Bell lost several places as a result and slipped back to 15th position before the Safety Car was deployed in time for the start of lap two. After a topsy-turvy race, Bell eventually came home in 14th position overall -- ninth in the Independents Trophy.
"I got a cracking start in the third race but then got caught up in the collision down at the chicane", he explained, "I didn't want to get involved there so I took it carefully to make sure we bagged three finishes.
"The first race ended up being about damage limitation but Brian (Ashwood -- Arkas Racing technical director) and Marvin (Humphries -- Tech-Speed Motorsport boss and Arkas Racing team manager) had a chat with me before race two and got my head right for that one, which showed in the result."
Unfortunately, Arkas Racing with Sunshine.co.uk only fielded one of its Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch cars this weekend with business commitments back home in Turkey meaning 38-year-old Erkut Kizilirmak was unable to make the trip to Oulton Park.
Regretfully sitting out the seventh event of the 2008 BTCC season, Kizilirmak should be back in action at Knockhill Circuit in Scotland three weeks from now -- an event Bell is relishing with renewed confidence after taking a significant step forward this weekend.
"Arkas Racing with Sunshine.co.uk is the best team in the paddock as far as I'm concerned", said Bell, "Everyone is absolutely fantastic and they do an incredible job. We missed Erkut being here this weekend but we're looking forward to hopefully seeing him back out at Knockhill."
Rounds 22, 23 and 24 of the 2008 HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship will take place three weeks from now on 16th/17th August at Knockhill Circuit in Scotland -- the BTCC's sole visit north of the border this year.
Television highlights of Sunday's three races from Oulton Park Island Circuit will be screened late tonight, Monday 28th July, at 01.50. Replays will be shown on Freeview, digital satellite and cable channels ITV4 and Men & Motors -- check listings for details.