PHIL Bell has brought the Ian Bell Trophy into the family ranks after he and James Connell beat Lee Crawford and Scott Hardie at East Fortune this weekend.
The North East Club’s finale has played host to the memorial title ever since 2016, where Crawford and Patrick Farrance lifted the honour before the County Durham driver defended the crown in 2017 after joining forces with Scotsman Hardie.
And although Gordon Shand and Tony Belsey took the win last year, it was anyone’s guess who would be lifting the silverware this weekend.
While the Marin duo of Bell and Connell clocked the quickest time in practice, it was Team ARC’s Crawford and Hardie who shot into the early lead, never to be caught as Bell and Connell had to settle for second some five seconds back as FSRA F2 Cup champs Simon Robinson and Rob Child bagged third.
But it was all change in race two as Crawford and Hardie looked to be on for another win before dropping out of contention after just two laps, leaving Bell and Connell with a clear run to the flag as they held off Robinson and Child to take the win, leaving Michael Kirkup and Arlo Brown to a lone podium finish.
Back in action on Sunday morning, Crawford and Hardie once again got the best start and hit the front with Bell and Connell in tow and Robinson and Mick Fairhurst giving chase.
But it was never more than a two-way battle for the lead and while Crawford and Hardie looked to be in control, the Bell Racing squad pipped them on the final lap to win by less than a second.
Although lap record holders Crawford and Hardie stamped their authority with a commanding 8.9sec victory in race four, the Ian Bell Trophy went to Bell and Connell on aggregate.
“We had a mint weekend winning Uncle Ian’s Memorial Trophy,” Phil admitted. “I have to give a big thanks to James for helping us out and pushing me, and Lee and Scott for some cracking races.
“It was a nice way to end a crap season. Now we need to consider next steps to progress in the British Championship next year with the 600cc outfit.”
*Images: Dirk Wharton