Rob Bell and Gianmaria Bruni secured a dramatic win for the Virgo Motorsport team at the Nurburgring, despite its yellow Ferrari 430 being severely damaged in a fire during Friday practice.
That fire, caused by a fuel lead, left the team facing a race against time to even get the car on the grid for the race with the Ferrari duly taking its place in the field for the start.
“Alarms went off and I started to lose power, then I smelt smoke and could see the flames, so I thought I'd better get off the track and out of the car,” Bell said. “We thought our weekend was over and that the car wouldn't be repairable in time, but the Virgo Motorsport boys did an outstanding job.
“I think they only had about nine or ten hours sleep the whole weekend, it was a great effort to get the car back out for the race.”
Having taken to the track for the warm-up on race day, Bruni started the race from the pit lane, but he wasn't prepared to hang around at the back. Within ten laps he had moved up to fourth in class, and was lapping quicker than all the other GT2 competitors. He finally took the lead of the class halfway through his stint, and handed over to Bell with a 25 second head start on the second placed GT2 Porsche.
Both drivers were setting the fastest laps of their class during the race, proving just how much race pace they had, despite conserving fuel. After over five hours of hard racing, the Virgo Motorsport crew came home to victory, nearly two laps ahead of the nearest competition.
“Being able to line up for the start of the race was an achievement in itself and I'd like to congratulate the Virgo Motorsport crew on a fantastic job,” Bell said. “To finish the race was another achievement, but to win as well really capped it all. We overcame adversity and won through, which made the victory even more special – but I wouldn't want to do it like that every time!
“We had awesome pace, just three tenths off the qualifying pole in GT2, so I reckon we might have taken pole if we'd been there. Despite conserving fuel we were lapping around a second quicker than everyone else and the car felt really good, so it was a great result for us.
“The championship is not yet decided, although we're three points ahead of the Porsche that's in second as we head to the last round in Silverstone. We could finish second to the Porsche and still win, so we have a slight advantage and the pressures on them. We'll be taking the fight to them that's for sure.”