Rob Bell is hoping that a steady approach will pay dividends for Clearwater Racing at the Le Mans 24 Hours, having reminded his rookie co-drivers that they will primarily be racing against themselves.
The 37-year-old McLaren factory driver will be joined by three-time GT Asia champion Weng Sun Mok and Keita Sawa in a well-populated GTE-Am class.
Clearwater won their entry by taking the Asian Le Mans Series GT class title, but with their McLaren 650S GT3 ineligibile under current ACO regulations, the Singapore-based outfit will instead campaign a proven ex-AF Corse Ferrari F458 Italia.
“I’ve been in great positions before at this race and you just learn that it’s a hard event, that’s why everybody wants to do it,” said Bell, who raced the 458 at Le Mans in 2011 with JMW Motorsport.
“I’ve been in second, pushing the leader with an hour to go when a piston broke, I’ve been in P3 with a couple of hours to go when the suspension failed, I’ve been leading twice with Aston Martin Racing and it just hasn’t happened.
“What I’ve passed on is that you’re not racing anyone else, you’re racing yourself and in this situation it’s just about focusing on what you’re doing.”
While Bell has started the 24 Hours seven times before, this will be his first time as part of a Pro-Am entry. It will be a different experience than he is accustomed to, but the Briton is confident that his team-mates will be well-prepared for the race after getting extensive mileage during Test Day.
“It’s a bit different when you’re in Pro, because you don’t have to worry about whether the car is suitable for them and you’re pushing all the time,” he said. “The guys are great, they’re pretty experienced and absolutely know what they’re doing, but they’ve never been to Le Mans before, so that’s the tricky bit.
“Between them they did all the running at the Test Day, I just did the minimum. We did exactly what we wanted to do, which was run faultlessly, with no dramas, building up confidence in Porsche Curves and getting a feel for where the LMP1s come past you.
“We’re looking at the long game, trying to make the car last, stay out of the garage and make as few mistakes as possible, which is all a given. There are a few crews in Am who have done it before, so I’d say on pace maybe we’re not going to be quite there as a group yet, but in the end if we don’t hit anything and we drive to our limits, wherever we are, we can only be happy with that.”