MOTOR RACING: Caythorpe’s Balfe will race his McLaren on home soil this season

Shaun Balfe and Rob Bell's McLaren.
Shaun Balfe and Rob Bell's McLaren.
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Following the success of winning the Pro Am title in the International GT Open Championship last season, rather than defend the title, Caythorpe’s Shaun Balfe and Rob Bell will be contesting the British GT Championship this season, in their Balfe Motorsport McLaren 650S GT3.

Balfe has not raced full time in the British Championship since 2003, having concentrated on Europe with a Ferrari prior to the current McLaren.

“There are multiple reasons for our decision. We did what we could in Europe, from runners-up in 2016 to champions last year, and thought where do we go next? McLaren liked the GT idea and we could see the opportunity to run customer cars too; plus we were ready for a change,” Balfe explained.

He finished as runner-up in the British GTs in 2003, sharing his Mosler with Jamie Derbyshire. After winning five rounds, he missed out on the title in the final race of the year, having previously shared a Porsche with Mark Sumpter in 2001.

“I haven’t raced at the majority of UK circuits for about seven years, but I am open minded about the year ahead. I have great respect for the existing teams and drivers and we know it’s going to be a steep learning curve, changing from Michelin tyres to Pirelli, with different sizes and compounds,” he added.

It is three years since Bell contested the British Championship too, when he finished seventh in the Black Bull/Ecurie Ecosse-backed McLaren 650S.

The Balfe team will also be busy running Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson in a GT4 version of the McLaren; the duo finished second in last year’s championship, having won the GT4 title in 2016.