A local family motor racing team is set to return to top flight competition this season.
Balfe Motorsport will return to the international GT racing scene in style with a brand new Ferrari 458 GT3 sports car.
Caythorpe’s Shaun Balfe will be behind the wheel, sharing the driving duties once again with Brazilian professional driver Thomas Erdos.
The team will contest the International GT Open Series which evolved from the Spanish GT Championship which Balfe Motorsport won with Shaun back in 2004.
Balfe Motorsport has not competed in GT racing for six years, when they ran a Saleen GT1 car in the FIA GT Championship. Driving a Ferrari 458, Shaun raced and won two rounds of the Pirelli Ferrari Open Challenge at Spa Francorchamps last year, which rekindled his interest in GTs.
Shaun has spent a number of years as a factory driver for the Radical Sportscar company and lifted the UK Cup title last year.
But Shaun and his father, David, decided it was time to resurrect the GT team and are hoping for a return to racing success with two-times Le Mans 24-hour victor Erdos.
Shaun said: “I can’t wait to get behind the wheel of the new car and drive with Tommy once again.
“The last time we raced together was in 2003, when we shared the Mosler in the 1000km race at Spa in Belgium. Tommy took class pole and we came very close to winning that race and the British GT title that year.”
Erdos brings with him a wealth of experience and speed to the team. He worked with David Balfe’s Fortec Motorsport team at the start of his single-seater career in 1990, and went on to win the Formula Renault UK Championship, his first title. He went on to sportscar and GT racing and triumphed in the British GT Championship.
Erdos said: “In a way it is like coming home for me. I won my first title with David and to be racing for him again and to be partnered with Shaun will be fantastic. He has shown he is a very fast driver in all types of cars. It should be a really good season and I can’t wait.”
The opening round of the International GT Open Series will be at the Paul Ricard circuit in the south of France in April. Balfe Motorsport are yet to finalise their full plans for the season and might elect to race particular rounds of the championship, rather than contesting every event.
It is a very popular and highly competitive race series and Shaun acknowledged that it would be quite a challenge.
He said: “We know it’s going to be a tough return. With our previous form in the category and the driver pairing we have, we want to do well.
“As a team, Balfe Motorsport always prided itself on preparing a good car and the same DNA is running through the team. The main focus this year will be on outright performance. We want to go out there, be competitive and win races.
“It is going to be an enjoyable season and we can’t wait to hit the tarmac.”