Bell rings in new Masters Mini season
Masters Pre-66 Minis – Race 1
Tom Bell came out on top of a superb race to kick off the Masters Pre-66 Minis season at Donington Park.
After topping the times in a truncated qualifying session, Bell came out on top in a race full of battles and comprising some of the best Mini racers in the UK.
In a car shared with Joe Ferguson over the weekend, Bell bolted away and built an early lead, benefitting from the pack behind squabbling race-long, allowing him to further extend his advantage. A gap in a Mini race of 15 seconds is almost unheard of, but Bell achieved it in the 20-minute thrash.
Behind him, a quite superb battle played out for second place involving Mini champions Ian Curley and Jeff Smith. The pair traded places throughout, running side-by-side through the Craner Curves for example, thrilling fans with the outcome always in doubt. Curley moved ahead, Smith moved back ahead – it was classic Mini racing, with the action clean and close. When it counted, however, it was Curley ahead by a tenth from Smith in third.
Bill Sollis ran fourth, but copped a penalty for an out-of-position start, dropping him to fifth, while nearest rival Michael Cullen was another penalised for the same offence! That dropped the Irishman to eighth place, allowing David Ogden to inherit fourth ahead of Sollis, while Barry Sime took sixth ahead of Jo Polley, her car repaired after a broken driveshaft stopped her qualifying effort. With a frustrated Cullen eighth, ninth fell to fellow countryman, and business partner, Niall McFadden, while Carl Nairn rounded out the top 10.
With Bell also setting fastest lap on his way to the win, the Mini hordes know that they have a new name to combat in 2020.
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