FFF Racing Team will reunite with British racer Matt Bell and Japanese gent Hiroshi Hamaguchi for its attack on the 2016-17 Asian Le Mans Series (AsLMS), which starts at the Zhuhai International Circuit in China later this month (29-30 October).
Bell returns to the FFF Racing ranks for the first time since his one-off Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup outing at Le Mans in June and he will share a Lamborghini Huracan GT3 with Hamaguchi, who has been hugely successful during two seasons with the Roger Dubuis-backed team in both Europe and Asia.
A full-time campaigner in the European Le Mans Series’ (ELMS) LMP3 division, Bell previously raced a plethora of thoroughbred GT3 racecars over the course of six years on the British, European and world stages.
His impressive résumé includes appearances in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), British GT Championship and high-profile endurance races like the Daytona 24 Hours, 12 Hours of Sebring and Spa 24 Hours.
A podium finish in the Bathurst 12 Hour and a notable Petit Le Mans victory are highlights of a glittering career, but it was a spirited drive in an FFF Racing Lamborghini at Le Mans that made Bell the standout candidate for the team’s maiden assault on the Asian Le Mans Series.
The Far East is unchartered territory for Bell, but the resolute Briton relishes the challenge of learning new circuits and believes with an Am teammate of Hamaguchi’s calibre, he and FFF Racing can have a run at big results, starting at the curtain-raiser in Zhuhai (29-30 October).
However, Bell thinks it’s unwise to underestimate the competition; a 33-car entry includes a 17-strong GT field that features as many as eight manufacturers – Audi, Bentley, BMW, Ferrari, Lamborghini, McLaren, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche – and Bell believes these numbers only affirm the growing strength and depth of the Asian motorsport scene.
“The only time I’ve ever competed in Asia was in the FIA WEC at Shanghai, so an Asian Le Mans Series campaign is a very exciting proposition,” said Bell. “I was really impressed with FFF, and the way it goes about its racing made my job of driving an unfamiliar car at an unfamiliar circuit much easier at Le Mans. The fact that event went well was a testament to the team’s professionalism and it made me want to return, but that I have been asked to come back for the AsLMS suggests I also did a good job.
“I feel Asian motorsport is massively underrated. Although the grids have been small, the calibre has always been high. There’s a strong field in 2016-17 and it will be as hard to win as any European series, with lots of European Pro drivers and teams making the effort to compete.”
Bell added: “Looking at where FFF Racing stands in the mix, the team definitely has what it takes and Hiroshi (Hamaguchi) is undoubtedly one of the quickest Ams to have competed in both Europe and Asia. The gentleman drivers make the biggest difference to the results, because while the Pros might be separated by tenths, the Ams can be split by one or two seconds. Hiroshi in an FFF Racing Lamborghini will be a force to be reckoned with, I’m sure.”
FFF Racing Team Owner, Sean Fu Songyang, said: “FFF Racing is entering a series that is completely new to us with a familiar driver line-up that includes Matt Bell and Hiroshi Hamaguchi in a Lamborghini Huracan GT3. We have to be one of the favourites to win the Asian Le Mans Series. As a team we believe we have all the pieces in place to make a very strong challenge and I’m looking forward to starting the series.”