Caythorpe GT racer Shaun shines at Spa Francorchamps

Tony Balfe and his double race-winning Ferrari and team at Spa Francorchamps.
Tony Balfe and his double race-winning Ferrari and team at Spa Francorchamps.

CAYTHORPE racing driver Shaun Balfe stepped back behind the wheel of a GT car for the first time in almost seven years to take two victories at Spa Francorchamps in Belgium over the weekend.

The former Britcar 24 Hours winner and Spanish GT Champion got behind the wheel of a brand new Ferrari 458 at the famous Belgian Grand Prix venue for the latest rounds of the Pirelli Ferrari Open Challenge and was immediately on the pace.

He entered qualifying with no prior testing, putting himself and his Graypaul of Nottingham-run machine on to the front row for both of races, holding pole position for most of the session for race two before being narrowly beaten.

There was confusion at the start of the first race on Saturday when the start lights were left off until the very last second. As the field surged forward after a brief start procedure, Shaun held on to his second place through the first hairpin and followed the race leader for the opening lap.

Midway through the second lap, the leader found some oil on the track. Aas he slithered wide Shaun managed to take evasive action and powered into the lead and on to victory.

At the start of the second race, Shaun managed to get a good run at the start and momentarily held the lead round the first corner. However, he had to concede the place as he and his rival went into Eau Rouge.

But by the end of the second lap, Shaun had found his way past and pulled away to take victory number two on his return to a closed cockpit race car.

Despite having raced in Radicals for the last few years, Shaun was obviously delighted to be back behind the wheel of an up-to-date GT spec car, with the 458 right at the cutting edge of the lower GT formula, and once again stepping back on to the top step of the podium.

Shaun said it had been an interesting weekend. He said: “The trip to Spa was to see what the car and racing is like. We didn’t come here expecting to win both races but I’m very happy with the results.

“The car was brilliant all weekend. It’s fantastic to drive and I can tell that the game has moved on in terms of GT cars and their performance since I last drove one in anger.

“The racing was really enjoyable and I was really comfortable in the car. I’m definitely keen to do more running and get more seat time in it and see what we can do.”

Shaun said he hoped to be back behind the wheel of the Ferrari a couple of times before the end of the year and said he was considering it as an option for next season.

He will be back behind the wheel of a Radical this weekend in the latest rounds of the UK Championship at Oulton Park in Cheshire.