South London rally driver Ruairi Bell will kick-start his 2021 competitive outings behind the wheel by contesting the opening round of the Peugeot Iberica Cup in Portugal, thanks to the motorsport preparation firm PT Racing.
Bell, 21 from Blackheath has contested selected events of the all-Peugeot series previously, but will now head to Rali Terras d’Aboboreira (30th March – 1st May) in a brand new Protec Temporary Protection and Marex backed 208 Rally4, to gain more experience of European events and, for the first time, will be partnered by Welsh co-driver Gareth Parry.
“I’m really excited to be able to compete again after such a period of uncertainty for many of us,” says Bell.
“Monza [final round of the 2020 Junior WRC] feels like a lifetime ago so it will be great to get the competitive edge back again and of course begin to build the relationship with Gareth in the car. Any opportunity to rally at the moment is a step in the right direction”.
Bell enjoyed an encouraging season in the coveted FIA Junior World Rally Championship during 2020, claiming fifth in the overall standings with a third at the final round in Monza a season highlight last December.
With a new direction on the cards this season, Bell has elected to seek out new opportunities and whilst his 2021 campaign is not yet confirmed, the chance to compete in Portugal was too good to miss.
“Our plans for this year are nearly sorted and we will be announcing them very soon, but until then, this chance to compete in the latest generation Peugeot 208 Rally4 is pretty mega,” he says.
“I have a lot of history with the Iberica Cup and it’s great to return to the series, I have fond memories there. I became the youngest-ever winner of an Iberica round and also the first non Spaniard or Portuguese driver to do so.
“It will be great to get back onto gravel again as well, I haven’t done a full gravel rally since Sardinia in October so no doubt it will take some settling in. But this is about the bigger picture and getting bedded in for what we have planned this year.”
Rali Terras d’Aboboreira offers over 100km of special stages spread over two days from its base in Amarante in the North of Portugal. Bell secured fourth place in the Iberica Cup on the event in 2019 but remains cautious about being too confident this time around.
“We have only driven the new Rally4 Peugeot for about two kilometres on the launch day of the car two years ago so there will be lots of learning to do on the opening day that’s for sure. But I like a challenge and we have several goals to meet during the weekend. It’s a great opportunity and to I’d like to thank PT Racing and SportsandYou for their support in making it happen, together with my sponsors.”
Bell is supported by Protec Temporary Protection, Marex, Boolers Pensions and Investments, L J Workwear and MSAR Motorsport in 2021.
Pictures: Honza Fronek / FIA Junior WRC
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