Bell and Salama Win Grand Prix du Trois Rivieres Trois Rivieres, Que- (16 Aug 2009) --Matt Bell checked another career accomplishment off his list on Sunday as he drove to his second Grand-Am KONI Sports Car GS Class victory with an impressive...
Bell and Salama Win Grand Prix du Trois Rivieres
Trois Rivieres, Que- (16 Aug 2009) --Matt Bell checked another career accomplishment off his list on Sunday as he drove to his second Grand-Am KONI Sports Car GS Class victory with an impressive 2.7-second win in the challenging Grand Prix du Trois Rivieres.
Bell shared the victory with fellow Turner Motorsport driver Don Salama, who qualified the BMW M3 third on the grid and started the 90-minute race before turning the controls over to Bell. The victory puts Bell's name on the same roster of champions at the track with names like Villeneuve and Rahal as the event celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2009.
Salama opened the race from behind the wheel and delivered another blue-chip drive, running as the lead BMW in the opening stages of the race. A well-timed yellow flag saw Salama turn to pit lane as Bell jumped in to the No. 96 BMW M3. As the pit stops cycled through, Bell was leading the race. Making the most of the situation, he grew his advantage from just a few car lengths to over eight seconds. But his run right to the checkered flag was interrupted as a full course caution slowed the field with just 15 minutes remaining.
Even though the race was just the second time he ran the final leg of the race in GS competition, Bell approached the restart like a seasoned pro, once again legging out to a two-second gap to take his second win of 2009.
"It's fantastic to get a win on this track!" said Bell. "To be behind the wheel and take the checkered flag was a great feeling. When that last yellow flag came out and took away the lead I'd built up, it was like it took all the steam out of the effort I'd put in at that point. But the BMW M3 is so balanced and I had been as conservative as I could be with the brakes so on the restart I was able to build up my lead again, thankfully. Don did a great job in his stint and the Turner guys gave me an unbelievable pit stop and then I just had to do my job from there."
"There are so few days in racing where everything works perfectly for you, but this was one of those days," said Salama. "My job was just to stay out as close to the front as possible. I am not in the championship points battle, so we had the flexibility to do the driver change when we wanted to. So when that yellow flag came out, it was exactly the right time for us. Matt drove a perfect race for us today, managing the car so that when that last restart came, he had plenty of car left underneath him and no problem moving clear of the field once again."