Fulbeck-based motor racing team drive McLaren to victory at Oulton Park
There were celebrations all round as Mia Flewitt and Euan Hankey droved their Balfe Motorsport McLaren 570S to victory in the GT4 class as the British GT Championship season finally got under way at a dramatic Oulton Park weekend.
Pre-race testing had gone well, with them recording a time only 0.265 sec off the GT4 pacesetter.
But it was in Saturday’s qualifying sessions that the real work began for the Fulbeck-based team.
Flewitt was out first in the Am class, setting eighth best time. “There were only two real Ams in the field, so it was just a case of doing the best we could, as I didn’t expect to beat them,” Mia said.
As the first race of the weekend got underway there were immediate dramas. “I made a good start but as I turned in I was hit and it damaged my wing mirror, so I had to do my stint without it,” she explained.
Chasing the Century BMW of Andrew Gordon-Colebrooke, she pitted from eighth overall in the GT4s. “I made a mistake at the stop and didn’t shut the car down properly, so Euan had to serve a stop go penalty,” she admitted.
But Hankey was then pushed out by a GT3 car, through the gravel at Druids. He managed to recover and although he was seventh in the GT4s and first ProAm, he was only 0.429 sec off the Century BMW and HHC McLaren who were duelling for fifth, also securing the fastest GT4 lap of the race.
For the second race, Hankey had taken pole position from his qualifying session, 0.027 sec ahead of Jamie Caroline’s Aston Martin.
Although he held his lead from pole initially, the straight line speed of the Aston Martins soon told and Caroline had the lead, while Patrick Kibble in the second Aston tried to challenge too.
But as the pit stop window approached, there was a huge collision at Cascades involving three cars, and so Hankey headed for the pits at his first opportunity.
“If there hadn’t been a safety car we would have had a 16.5sec lead as the others had success penalties to serve, but I rejoined in a GT3 sandwich, just keeping in touch on the radio and being ready just in case we got a green flag,” said Flewitt.
With three cars to recover, it started to become obvious that the race would end under the safety car. “I didn’t really get to race but hey, we will take that, a win is a win,” she concluded.
Instead of being in action himself, Shaun Balfe was in management mode.
He said: “It was a very busy Sunday afternoon with a warm-up and two races in close succession. But as a team we had no big issues to deal with fortunately.
"All went well as we were pleased with the whole team's performance.”