June 19, 2015 (Los Angeles, Calif.) – 330 laps, a couple of penalties, a spin, and a tough battle for position later, Townsend Bell and his teammates found themselves on the podium. Not bad for three rookies!
Townsend Bell and his teammates Bill Sweedler and Jeff Segal campaigned the No. 62 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia at the 83rd running of Le Mans this past weekend, where they finished third in the LM GTE-Am class. Bell previously told us about his experiences preparing for the race, and then what it was like to qualify on an unfamiliar track.
People have been asking me how I am feeling after Le Mans. I’m pretty tired! I slept 14 hours last night and I am looking for another 14 tonight. My hands are blistered, my body aches, but I’ve never felt better!
Most of this happened away from the cameras, but we battled through a lot of obstacles during the race. We had three separate flat tires. We had to deal with an overheating engine, which was caused by a ton of debris in the radiator inlets. We had two penalties—one for pit speed violation, and another for a slow zone violation. (This year, for the first time, the race director utilized slow zones, which are similar to local yellows. This is done to keep the number of full-course cautions to a minimum). And, we had a starter failure that the team was able to fix with a two-foot rod with a magnet on its end. We also had a drink system failure, but the Scuderia Corsa crew guys were able to fix that during a pit stop.
Throughout the first part of the race, my teammates Bill Sweedler, Jeff Segal and I focused on giving very strong feedback about the car and the setup. For us, having never contested a Le Mans or raced on the Michelin tires before, our biggest challenge was learning the tires. We needed to understand what the sweet spot was for a given compound at a given temperature and pressure. Once we got a handle on that, our pace was strong and consistent.
One of the highlights of my race was a battle for third position in class with Patrick Long in his Dempsey-Proton Porsche. We were quicker on average, but Long’s car was quicker down the straight. My only chance was to try something clever in the braking zones—too clever by half! I spun. After the spin, it was a lot of fun to chase the Porsche down again. Without the engine issues that forced us to throttle back in the last few hours, I think second place was in the cards. But, I was happy for the Patricks (That’s Long and his teammate, Patrick Dempsey. – Ed.). They are both good guys and have worked hard to achieve this result.
We were pretty shocked in the last hour when the Aston Martin that was leading GT-Am crashed, which moved us from fourth to third position. Bill was just getting ready to change out of his firesuit, but I had a feeling that we would end up on the podium. I don’t think anyone thought we’d have any chance as three rookies on a rookie team—but we did pretty well in the end!
It was pretty cool to stand on the podium. I loved to see the joy on the faces of Bill, Jeff and Giacomo Mattioli, Scuderia Corsa team owner. I was just as happy for them, maybe even more so, because they have worked so incredibly hard to make this happen. To succeed as a team is a great feeling.
This was the most challenging race I have ever done. It took 330 laps, lots of Advil, and one hour of sleep—but what a feeling it was to survive and be on the podium. I hope we can come back and take the top step next year.
Photo Credit: Robert Viva
About Scuderia Corsa
The 2013 Grand-AM Rolex GT championship-winning team Scuderia Corsa was founded in 2011 by Giacomo Mattioli and Art Zafiropoulo. The team was created for the sole purpose of supporting the racing needs of Ferrari clients and includes turnkey programs, GT endurance racing, the North American Ferrari Challenge Series and track events. Giacomo Mattioli is the owner of Ferrari Beverly Hills, Los Angeles and South Bay and partner in Ferrari Maserati Silicon Valley with Art Zafiropoulo.
Follow Scuderia Corsa on Twitter @Scuderia_Corsa, on Facebook at Scuderia Corsa, Instagram at #Scuderiacorsaferrari and ScuderiaCorsa.com
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