Jason Bell has become a fixture in the Pirelli GT4 America paddock with GMG Racing, competing in both the Sprint and SprintX formats this season.
This week in the Pirelli Paddock Pass, Bell discusses his season so far, his opportunity to drive in the first race of the revamped GT2 category during the Total 24 Hours of Spa weekend, and what is to come for him in 2020.
What has been the highlight of your 2019 Pirelli GT4 America season so far?
“It’s been a pretty rough season for me, actually. After switching over to the Porsche we’ve been chasing things around a little bit, but at Watkins Glen I think we kind of got it. It was a lot better.
“Sunday’s race, I thought we were going to get the overall win and then we cut a tire down. I was in second in Pro-Am and going forward, but then the cut tire.
“The last two laps were under caution and I had to come in so we lost that, but Sunday was good. The Sprint race was good because I finished 11th overall and was pretty quick.
“Actually, I’d say the highlight was probably that weekend, getting things in order, and back to where we should be.”
What specifically allowed you to have that breakthrough weekend?
“I think the breakthrough has been the guys getting a grasp of the handling of the car with the camber and different things.
“It’s taken us awhile to get to where other teams have been already because they were running Porsches last year. It’s not like a lot of people are going to be sharing information so we had to find it on our own.
“I brought in Andrew Davis to drive with me this past weekend to try to figure the care our quickly and that helped out quite a bit.
“I was a whole second faster than I was last year at Watkins Glen and the car felt good, so that weekend was a breakthrough weekend for me.
“I think going to Road America, we’re really going to be good there so I’m pretty excited.”
What did Andrew Davis bring to the table at Watkins Glen?
“I’ve been going to Watkins Glen since 2012, so it was more about knowledge and the extra little bit that he knows with the setup of the car and going through the data and video with me.
“He helped me pick up some little things which are hard to find.
“Once you get to a decent speed it’s hard to get that extra bit. That was huge. Him driving the car, now I know it’s not just me thinking there might be something wrong balance-wise.
“Getting the car to where he’s comfortable with it and thinking its good gives me more faith in the car as far as being able to go after that extra bit that you need to do.”
How special was your experience at Spa racing the GT2 Porsche?
“That was probably the coolest racing I’ve ever been involved in. The whole thing, from the car to the people to the track and the towns around it, how much those people loved racing, it was crazy.
“Porsche, the job that they did putting on the event, the paddock area and the hospitality, it’s something I’d do again if they enable it.
“We’ve been talking to them about that, and I’d definitely be there. The track is just amazing. It’s a really cool track. It’s very intimidating at first, but it flows really well. It was super fun.
“I just wish we had a little more time! We only had two 45 minute practice sessions and then we were qualifying, so we’re driving a new car and a new track and you don’t want to be the one to wind up making a mistake.”
What can you tell us about your 2020 plans?
“I’m definitely going to be doing GT4 again, and I’m hoping to be doing the Sprint and the SprintX. That’s my plan. Depending on what SRO is going to do, I do intend to drive the GT2 and the GT4.
“Believe it or not, it’s not going to be quite as difficult because the GT2 and the GT4 actually are similar in the way they feel and the grip level that they have, it’s just that one is a lot faster than the other one!
“The cornering speeds are pretty close because there’s not much downforce on the GT2 also. So it’s not going to be hard to do both on the same weekend.
“That’s my intention, to drive those five races for GT2 and do the GT4 Sprint and maybe some SprintX races too. I’m hoping to race the 8 Hour event [at Indianapolis] again, also.”