We're still in the GT title mix says Matt Bell

Newcastle's Matt Bell now lies third in the British GT Championship after scoring a sixth place at Brands Hatch on Sunday

Matt Bell in action
Matt Bell in action

Newcastle's Matt Bell now lies third in the British GT Championship after scoring a sixth place at Brands Hatch on Sunday.

Bell and team-mate Mark Patterson were back at the wheel of the United Autosports Audi R8 LMS ultra for Round Seven at the Kent circuit.

The pair had a good start to the weekend with the United Autosports team quickly getting the Audi’s set-up into the groove at Brands.

Running on the full Grand Prix circuit both drivers posted good times in the practice session, despite it being Mark’s first race on the track. 

But they were left scratching their heads after qualifying when they could only manage a lap time that put them in 12th place on the grid.

“We just couldn’t get the balance right on new tyres,” explained Bell. “We could get the rears to work but not the fronts. Unusually it got better as the session went on and I actually did my fastest time on my seventh lap.”

Patterson took the wheel to start the race, losing a few places in the difficult mid-zone of the grid. But he kept a very cool head  and steadily made his way back through the order, despite taking a few hits along the way.

He handed the Audi over to Bell in 11th place and the fight back continued. “The car felt great when I got in,” said Bell.

“We really got the set-up sorted for the race and it was good to get out there and be consistently fast. I managed to make a few moves and got up to sixth place, all the time catching the lead group.

“It’s a shame we didn’t start further up as we could have been challenging for the lead. The lesson we learned is to get it right in qualifying.

“We have the driver pairing, the team and the car to win. We’re still very much in the mix with three races to go and a lot of points up for grabs.

“United Autosports gave me the best car I’ve had all year today. We’re getting on top of it at the crucial point of the season when every lap counts.”

Bell and the United Autosports team will be back in action on September 8 at Zandvoort in The Netherlands.

Meanwhile, Warren Hughes used his skill and experience to help Brands Hatch debutants Rembert Berg and the W Racing Team (WRT) recover from a tough weekend on Sunday afternoon.

The East Boldon-based driver helped his team recover from a first lap drama and managed to salvage a 14th-place finish in Round Seven of the British GT Championship. Hughes and his Dutch team-mate thought the day was over before it started after Berg was punted off the track in a scuffle on the opening lap.

Berg was forced to limp back to the pits, losing three laps and was left languishing way down in 31st spot after the crash.

As a result, when Hughes finally got behind the wheel of the WRT Audi R8 LMS Ultra for the second stint, he had a massive task to fight his way back up the order.

“It was a difficult and physically exhausting stint for me of just over an hour, the Audi wasn’t easy to drive,” he revealed. “We had a handling imbalance the entire weekend, but with every lap in each session and then the race itself, we’ve improved it.”

Hughes believes the whole team worked hard for the place, and as the only member to have actually raced at Brands before, praised his team-mates.

“It’s worth bearing in mind it was WRT’s first race at Brands, the first time they’d raced on Avon tyres, the track was completely new to my co-driver Rembert, and it was a new team for Rem and I to work with in this series after contesting the opening races with M-Sport.

“Our car-to-pit radio wasn’t working properly and I hadn’t a clue where I was in the race. It’s a case of overcoming new team gremlins which always happens, but that said, Rem’s pace was very good and the team performed well.

“Once we get the WRT Audi dialled into the Avon tyres we will be bang up there.”

Hughes and Berg, who now lie ninth in the  standings, plan to test the Audi before the next race at Zandvoort on September 8.

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