Grove takes rookie Supercars engineer to Spa

Jack Bell has been named Matt Payne's engineer for the 2023 Supercars Championship

Jack Bell (right) is race engineer to Matt Payne (left) at Grove Racing

Rookie Supercars engineer Jack Bell has jetted off to Belgium to hone his skills as part of Grove Racing’s 24 Hours of Spa campaign.

The #19 Penrite Racing entry is this year an all-rookie driver/Race Engineer duo, with Matt Payne and Bell making the step up from the Dunlop Super2 Series together.

Meanwhile, team owners Stephen and Brenton Grove have committed to the full, five-round Intercontinental GT Challenge campaign which began at Bathurst in February, and will move into a new-generation, 992-spec Porsche 911 GT3 R from Round 3 at Spa-Francorchamps.

Dick Johnson Racing’s Anton De Pasquale also forms part of Grove Racing’s driver line-up, including for July’s blue riband event in Belgium, and one of their own Supercars personnel is joining in too.

The Supercars team includes Team Principal David Cauchi and Technical Director Grant McPherson, both of whom have won championships as race engineers, and both of whom hence have knowledge to impart on Bell.

However, exposure to Porsche’s engineering brains at this week’s Spa ‘Prologue’ test and then the twice-around-the-clock race itself will also be of benefit to the youngster, reasons Stephen Grove.

“He’s going really well,” Grove told Speedcafe of Bell.

“He’s learning a lot and he’s got a couple of really good people to rely on with Cauchi and ‘Shippy’.

“We’re taking him over to Spa – he flies out Monday as well – to do some engineering for us and work with the Porsche engineers over there and get more experience, and then he’s coming back for the race, the 24 Hours of Spa, to spend some more time to learn from those guys.

“When you got some of the best engineers in the world, in the GT paddock, it’s ongoing development for him.”

Matt Payne. Picture: InSyde Media

Matt Payne. Picture: InSyde Media

Grove Racing slipped from third in the teams’ championship ahead of the Symmons Plains Supercars event to sixth after a tough weekend for both Payne and David Reynolds.

Neither finished any of the weekend’s three races higher than Reynolds’ 12th in the final encounter, and he dumped points in the earlier Sunday affair when contact with Shane van Gisbergen caused a flat tyre.

“We pretty much struggled from the moment we rolled out the truck,” he admitted.

“We haven’t had much pace to show this weekend.

“[On Sunday] I had a drama in qualifying; locked a few brakes where I shouldn’t have and made a few mistakes. The car was really hard to drive.

“I had the contact with Shane van Gisbergen and that sort of ruined my race and I went a lap down.

“The next race, we started 18th and all I could manage was 12th, so we moved forward but we sort of struggled in key areas you need to make the cars fast and we need to sit down and think about it.”

Meanwhile, the other member of the Grove IGTC driving quartet, Earl Bamber, has just won the Nurburgring 24 Hours.

The Spa Prologue takes place on May 23-24 and the race event on June 29-July 2.

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