GT2’s Rob Bell & Gimmi Bruni Take The JMW Motorsport Ferrari F430 To 2nd In Barcelona
It was a positive start for Le Mans Series new team JMW Motorsport (UK) as they powered to a 2nd place finish in the LMGT2 having secured pole the day before.
Team drivers Rob Bell (UK), the reigning LMGT2 Champion and Gimmi Bruni (It) have renewed their partnership of the last two years and their successful formula looks set to continue under the JMW Motorsport banner which also reunites them with Jim MCWhirter’s twice Championship winning Ferrari F430 and a number of key personal.
In Saturday’s qualifying Bruni proved that JMW’s Dunlop shod Ferrari returns to the track with enviable flying lap speed as he took pole position ahead of the Team Modena Ferrari F430 by six one-hundredths of a second. With the top six LMGT2 qualifiers covered by less than a second Bell’s pre-race prediction that this would be the toughest GT2 season yet looked set to come true.
After being fastest in Sunday warm-up, the team took to the grid with Bruni at the wheel. Dropping to 3rd on the opening lap it was a 1-2-3 nose to tail battle in the LMGT2 class which was to last the first hour of the six hour race. After a smooth pitstop and driver change Bell’s first stint continued Bruni’s hard work and the car raised to 2nd and into the lead as the next flurry of pitstops approached.
With Bruni at the wheel for his second stint he slotted into 2nd and made a storming charge on Leo Mansell in the leading Team Modena Ferrari to take back the lead with the Felbermayr Porsche also making headway. Into the fourth hour and Bell’s second stint saw the first real gaps in the GT2 class form with himself and the Felbermayr Porsche breaking away from the other contenders.
When the Felbermayr Porsche took the lead, Rob was never far behind in what was turning out to be a real battle. The final round of pitstops saw Bruni back in the car as the Porsche’s slight advantage eked out a lead and luck favoured them as a final safety car period came in just as the LMP1 leader split the Felbermayr Porsche and JMW Motorsport Ferrari, giving the former the opportunity to gain the better part of a lap.
With 2nd position safely in the team’s pocket, a quick ‘splash and dash’ was more caution than necessity and the team celebrated their first podium.
Rob Bell was quick to praise his ‘new team with familiar faces’ after the race. "That’s a fair start for the first race of the year. We are learning all the time and the team were fantastic. Prefect pit stops, the boys did a great job.
"I predicted the Lietz/Lieb pairing in a Porsche would come out strong and I was right! We’ll do our homework now and then roll on Spa!"
Team Principal Jim McWhirter was equally pleased with his new venture "I’m very proud of the team. They worked exceptionally hard and have come together to form a strong crew. As always Rob and Gimmi have given 100%. The GT2 class is looking very competitive this year. We know and relish the fact that we will have be at the top of our game at all times."
The next race is the 1000kms of Spa, Belgium on 8-10 May 2009.