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Fulbeck-based motorsport team endure difficult Donington weekend

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The Balfe Motorsport racing team's Audi R8 LMS GT3 of Shaun Balfe and Adam Carroll arrived at Donington Park as joint leaders of the British GT Championship.

After testing and practice sessions were complete, it was Balfe to take the wheel first in qualifying.

“There was a bit of traffic on my best lap and it cost me a couple of tenths. That cost me a bit but I felt as though I was there or thereabouts and only four tenths off the Am pole time,” said Balfe after finishing seventh best.

Balfe Motorsport racing team's Audi R8 LMS GT3 in the pits at Donington. (56993995)
Balfe Motorsport racing team's Audi R8 LMS GT3 in the pits at Donington. (56993995)

Carroll was eighth best in the Pro session. “The track temperature wasn’t a factor but it was cooler and the car felt a lot better than in testing. I think we both maximised what we could do, had consistent times and got the most out of it,” Carroll added.

The combined time from both sessions then gave the Fulbeck-based team seventh overall for a fourth-row grid start in the afternoon's three-hour race.

Balfe took the opening stint and after an excellent start he was already up to sixth on the opening lap, trying to stay with Neary’s Mercedes.

But as the top five began to spread out, Igoe’s Lamborghini closed in and began to threaten, before going ahead into the Melbourne Hairpin on lap three.

Despite losing the place, Balfe was still able to stick with Igoe until lap 10, when he suddenly lost ground and his seventh place became a target for Malykhin’s Lamborghini.

With Neary pitting from fifth on lap 15, everyone moved up and once again Balfe was pressing hard to retake Igoe for fifth into the Esses.

Balfe’s pressure helped both he and Igoe close in on Balon’s Lamborghini for fourth, before a 20th lap sort out at Melbourne.

“I had a great start but when Igoe and Balon collided, it delayed me a little too. But apart from the lead two, it had remained fairly close. The car was handling perfectly, I could see the cars ahead, but we just didn’t have the ultimate pace,” Balfe explained.

Balon was off and slipped well back, but both Igoe and Balfe moved up and continued to run in tandem for the duel for fourth.

With the safety car in action a couple of laps later, almost everyone pitted, with Carroll rejoining in seventh.

The safety car remained out for seven laps, as it had not initially picked up the leading trio. But from the green flag, Carroll was in sixth place, 13 seconds off the lead, coming under increasing pressure however from Dorlin’s Lamborghini.

On lap 40, Carroll was forced to surrender his sixth place when Dorlin darted through on the inside into Goddards.

Having continued in seventh, Carroll handed back to Balfe after 55 laps, as one of the early stoppers.

They had been hovering around the lower reaches of the top 10, starting the final hour in eighth, with Balfe handing to Carroll to bring the car home.

A drive-through track limits penalty for Balfe cost them a couple of places, but Carroll managed to hold off a challenge from Malvern’s Porsche in the final minutes to retain a hard earned eighth overall and sixth in the Pro Am Class.

“It was frustratingly hard today. The balance of the car was good and I was consistent, but I was flat out and still losing up to five tenths in the speed traps,” said Carroll.

The next round of the Championship is at Snetterton June 26.

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