Paul Ricard HTTT
- JMW Motorsport wins LM GTE
- An historic win for the Ferrari 458 team
JMW Motorsport Victorious In Le Castellet
Britain's JMW Motorsport Take a Historic Win for the Ferrari 458 in Round One of the 2011 Le Mans Series LM GTE Pro Class.
JMW Motorsport opened their 2011 Le Mans Series account in the best possible way securing a spirited win in the LM GTE Pro class in their new Ferrari 458. This year sees JMW Motorsport regular driver Rob Bell joined by fellow Brit and newcomer to the LMS James Walker.
We're delighted to have won after a great scrap out on the track.
Fresh from taking delivery of the new car and shaking it down at Adria just seven days earlier, the Dunlop shod, Shell Racing Solutions fuelled car made positive progress through practice session culminating in Rob Bell placing the car 4th on the LM GTE Pro grid for Sunday's opening race of the 2011 LMS season. The qualifying performances of the LM GTE Pro indicated that 2011 will once again be a highly competitive year, and the GT cars will continue to provide the dramatic and vigorous racing which has seen the class capture the imagination of teams, drivers and spectators alike.
On race day it was a case of high drama before the cars reached the first corner with a surreal start that saw the pace car still at the front of the pack whilst the lights changed to green. With the front of the field remaining in 'warm up lap mode', the rear of the field on seeing the lights changed went into 'race mode' which subsequently lead to a number of cars making contact, taking a number of LM GTE Pro cars out of the equation. Rob Bell was able to steer the #66 Ferrari out of harm's way.
With the melee of the start behind them, the LM GTE Pro settled down into a solid and close battle with Rob taking the JMW Motorsport Ferrari into the top three as the foundations of a race long battle for LM GTE Pro supremacy began.
Rob handed over to James Walker in a strong 3rd place and it was time for the new boy on the block to get his first taste of Le Mans Series action. It was hard to believe that James had only had the briefest seat time the week before as he put in a very strong stint, enjoying nose to tail battles and posting very competitive lap times. The strong momentum continued for the team, as both drivers continued their strong showings which when coupled with team strategy and great integrity from the Dunlop tyres put them in the optimum position to make all opportunities pay.
As the closing hour came, after a second solid strong from James who was deservedly winning praise on his debut, Rob Bell went into a race to the finish with the #51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 driven by Fisichella. Edge of the seat racing followed with Rob taking the lead with a superb over taking move, and when the AF Corse had to make a further pit stop, Bell ran with the advantage to take the historic first European victory for the Ferrari 458.
As Rob said afterwards 'We're delighted to have won after a great scrap out on the track. I knew that the no. 51 AF Corse car still had another pit stop to make, but I had an opportunity to overtake it which I grabbed with both hands! This win is a great reward.'
This win is a great reward.
This win a testament to the sum of the parts for JMW Motorsport and can be celebrated as a great team effort both within the immediate team and in their wider circle of partners. It is with great pride that Team Owner Jim McWhirter can applaud this victory and use it as the starting block for the team's new venture with the Ferrari 458. Whilst the car is 'straight out of the box', the performance this weekend is testament to the diligent work of the JMW Motorsport crew under the guidance of Chief Engineer, Steve Bunkhall and Chief Mechanic, Davey Nicholas.
The team's continued relationship with Dunlop also flourishes, and the excellent performance of the Dunlop tyres certainly whets the appetite for further innovation. Indeed, Team Manager Tim Sugden whilst enjoying the moment of the win also points out that there are plenty of improvements and tweaks for the team to get their teeth into so there will be no resting on laurels for this team!
The team's next Le Mans Series outing will be at Spa on 6-8 May when the battle for LM GTE Pro honours is sure to be even hotter!
-source: JMW Motorsport