Portimao: JMW Motorsport race report

JMW MOTORSPORT: VICTORIOUS IN PORTIMAO Rob Bell and Gimmi Bruni Take JMW Motorsport to their First LMS Win and the LMGT2 Championship Lead JMW Motorsport fought with all their might after an early set back in the third round of the 2009 Le...

JMW MOTORSPORT: VICTORIOUS IN PORTIMAO

Rob Bell and Gimmi Bruni Take JMW Motorsport to their First LMS Win and the LMGT2 Championship Lead

JMW Motorsport fought with all their might after an early set back in the third round of the 2009 Le Mans Series at Portimao, Portugal to take their first ever team victory and the LMGT2 Championship lead.

The team qualified in 2nd on the grid for the 6 hour race which started at 7.15pm and ran into the early hours of the morning at the new circuit located on the Algarve.

Rob Bell made a strong start in the JMW Motorsport Ferrari F430 to take the LMGT2 lead from polesitter Richard Lietz in the Team Felbermayr Porsche. However, a melee of LMP1 and LMP2 cars at the first corner caused somewhat of a nightmare for the following GT entrants. The #92 JMW Ferrari was hit by the Team Farnbacher car spinning Rob back to 8th in class.

Soon into momentum, Rob raised the car to 6th and a super smooth pitstop to hand over to team-mate Gimmi Bruni kept the positive flow. Gimmi's stint saw the team settle in 2nd place by the 2 hour mark as it became clear the racing across the classes was going to be fast and furious yet, remarkably, the entire race would run without a single yellow!

As Rob got back behind the wheel, darkness fell and, with little ambient light, vigilance needed to be kept high with the flying prototypes appearing over the undulations of the circuits in the pitch black. Both drivers reported back it was one of the most challenging races in which they had ever competed.

Past the three hour mark, and whilst Rob came back in for a pitstop there was to be no driver change with Rob double stinting. A stunning performance by the JMW Motorsport crew helped propel the car into 1st in what was becoming a very close battle for the lead along with the IMSA Performance Matmut Porsche and Team Modena Ferrari in the fray.

Gimmi entered the car to do a double stint to see the race through to the end. Team Modena took the lead but with Gimmi keeping the #92 flat out, as it had been all night, JMW grabbed the top spot once more. With time for a quick splash and dash before the chequered flag, JMW Motorsport took a superb win just 5 seconds ahead of the late charging IMSA Porsche with Team Modena in 3rd. With Championship rivals Team Felbermayr picking up just 2 points from this event, JMW Motorsport's 10 points sees them leap frog to the top of the Championship table with 25 points.

Team owner Jim McWhirter was delighted with the result, which marks a milestone in JMW Motorsport's first year.

"This is a wonderful result" said Jim, "and richly deserved by the team lead by Steve `Doc' Bunkhall, Team Manager Tim Sugden and our drivers Rob Bell and Gimmi Bruni. The whole team have given their all in our first year and to take our first win as a team is incredibly important. It is also an honour to be part of such a successful weekend for our partners Dunlop, who have taken three out of the four class wins today. Dunlop have been instrumental in our success this year and to bring them this win, and take the Championship lead, is testament to everyone's hard work".

The next round of the Le Mans Series takes place at Nurburgring on 21-23 August.

-credit: jmw

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About this article
Series European Le Mans
Drivers Rob Bell , Tim Sugden , Richard Lietz
Teams IMSA Performance Matmut , Team Felbermayr , JMW Motorsport