Caythorpe's Shaun Balfe drives Lotus Cortins to podium finish on historic seasonal debut
After taking second place with his Lotus Cortina in the U2TC Pre-66 under two-litre Touring Car race at Donington Park, Caythorpe's Shaun Balfe was set to make a another podium visit with his Lotus Cortina in the Coys Trophy – until the differential broke.
The Donington Park Historic Festival was Balfe’s first outing this season with the Lotus Cortina and he managed to qualify fourth quickest for the U2TC Pre-66 Touring Car Race
“It was OK but the session was red flagged after 10 minutes when there were still dry patches on the track. When we restarted it had rained and so the best laps had been at the beginning of the session,” he explained.
As the race got underway, Balfe was fourth into Redgate, but ousted Pete Chamber' Cortina at Coppice and began the pursuit of Andrew Banks’ Alfa Romeo and Ambrogio Perfetti’s Cortina.
As Banks' lead grew, Balfe started to press Perfetti for second, which saw his rival almost run wide off the track at Coppice on the second lap.
The pressure continued as the duo ran nose to tail until lap nine, when Balfe finally edged in front. It proved impossible to open a gap and Perfetti was back ahead into the chicane two laps later.
“I had understeer at the chicane and oversteer exiting in third gear. But if I used second gear it over revved, so I felt like I needed a gear between,” Balfe explained.
It was still nose to tail when Balfe became the first of the leaders to make their pitstop. He rejoined with Perfetti again who was yet to make his stop, finally handing to Oscar Rovelli six laps later.
Balfe was into second again but Rovelli proved just as persistent as his co-driver and stayed inches behind for the rest of the race.
“It was a fairly good start and then we just battled for the entire race. Once I was in front I tried to open a gap, then we hit traffic or I made a mistake and we were together again,” Balfe explained.
Perfetti/Rovelli had been given a five second track limits penalty though. “I knew they hadn’t served the penalty, but wasn’t sure which of them was the quickest, so just kept racing to the flag,” Balfe added after taking a solid second.
He was also out again in the Coys Trophy for 1958-66 Touring Cars and qualified fourth again.
Balfe said: “It rained during the session so the conditions varied, but once again the times at the beginning were quickest.”
Having been a comfortable fifth for the first seven laps, Balfe was up to fourth and began to close on Chambers’ Cortina. He had just made it to third when the pitstops began, rejoining in sixth.
Having just moved up to fifth on lap 17, the diff failed and it was race over.
Balfe concluded: “It was probably the stress from the standing start, but we were definitely on for another podium, maybe even a win.”