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Bell Shows His Speed at Le Mans

Thursday 21st June 2018

Matt Bell demonstrated the performance of the United Autosports Ligier LMP3 car at Le Mans last week, posting the fastest lap time of all the Ligiers in the ‘Road to Le Mans’ race that took place ahead of the 2018 Le Mans 24 Hours, which boasted a spectator figure of 256,900.

The Road to the Mans is made up of two 55-minute races and makes up two rounds of the Michelin Le Mans Cup.  Two 20-minute qualifying sessions set the grid positions for the two races, the first held last Thursday and the second on Saturday.

Bell was behind the wheel of the #22 United Autosports Ligier JS P3 for the first qualifying session and despite red flags meaning that he only got one clear shot at the world-famous Le Mans track, he managed to qualify in fourth place.  The final red flag was a particular blow as Bell was on a lap that looked set to give him pole position.

Jim McGuire took the wheel for the second session, which was also littered with red flags. Unfortunately for McGuire he also had traffic during his one chance so, despite being capable of being in the Top 20, he had to settle for 36th place.

Hopes were high for Race 1 but trouble wasn’t far away. As Bell accelerated out of the assembly area to join the rest of the field, he ran into technical trouble.

“I accelerated out of the assembly area to start the formation lap but suddenly ground to a halt due to a fuel line issue,” Bell explained. “The marshals moved me out of harm’s way and I then had the full Le Mans experience, whereby if you can fix the car yourself you can get back to the pits and back in the race.  Without tools it’s a bit tricky getting the engine cover off so I had to summon my inner Hulk and bend the cover back so I could fix the problem before coming back to the pits for a full check up from the team.”

After a lap to check the car over, Bell then pitted to allow McGuire to run a full stint so he had some racing laps of Le Mans under his belt before Race 2 on Sunday.

Sunday’s race started well for the #22, this time with McGuire behind the wheel. He made up a couple of places and managed to make his way through all the dramas ahead of him but then spent most of his stint behind the Safety Car.  When Bell jumped in he got his head down and managed to gain 12 places, which meant he crossed the line 22ndin class.

“I had a clear run in the second race,” said Bell. “The Le Mans circuit is a Norma stronghold due to their straight line speed advantage but I was very happy to take the fourth fastest lap overall and the fastest lap of all of the Ligiers.

“It’s always good to race at Le Mans, he continued. “It’s good to bank experience at an iconic circuit that you can’t test at.  Although we didn’t get the results we’re encouraged by our pace and we can take that performance forward to the next round at the Red Bull Ring.”

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2018 Michelin Le Mans Cup
Red Bull Ring, Austria:
21 July 2018

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