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Exploding tyre ends race early for Fulbeck's Balfe Motorsport Audi R8

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The Balfe Motorsport duo of Shaun Balfe and Adam Carroll arrived at Silverstone as British GT Championship leaders following their victory at Oulton Park.

The Fulbeck-based team's Audi R8 LMS GT3 is the only one of its marque in the championship and therefore an ongoing development for the team.

After both drivers had taken part in their individual qualifying session, the aggregate gave them 12th place on the grid for Sunday’s race.

Balfe Motorsport's Audi R8 LMS GT3 fights it out at Silverstone - before disaster struck to end the team's race hopes. (56542777)
Balfe Motorsport's Audi R8 LMS GT3 fights it out at Silverstone - before disaster struck to end the team's race hopes. (56542777)

“We were losing out on every straight again, due to the BOP (balance of power) restrictions,” Carroll explained.

“The success of the Audi on the world stage caused the power to be restricted. It’s the same rules as we had at Oulton Park, but you feel if more at Silverstone as it’s a quicker track,” Balfe added. “We are in the bottom 25 per cent in every speed trap, so it’s a very small working window, with power and tyre settings to suit that.”

There was a sign of improvement and optimism during Sunday morning's warm-up, which was helped by slightly cooler temperatures, and with a late morning start to the race, things were looking slightly more optimistic.

Balfe was at the wheel for the first stint and it started well. From 10th place into Becketts on the opening lap, he was already up to fifth by the end of the opener.

“The car was much better off the line than at Oulton, it was a good solid start with decent pace and I was feeling comfortable,” he explained.

The lead duo had pulled well clear, but from fourth to seventh had closed up, with Balfe well in the mix.

But Morgan Tillbrook’s McLaren had begun to threaten and was ahead by the end of lap 11.

“We were still in touch except for the lead two and our plan was to make an early stop and put Adam out,” Balfe said.

After 15 laps, Balfe headed into the pit lane from a strong sixth, the first of the lead crews to make a stop.

They rejoined in 14th but started to move up the order again as the other crews started to make their stops.

Twenty laps into the race and Carroll was up to 12th with a number of the cars ahead still to make a stop.

Poised to break back into the top six again after 25 laps, there was suddenly a catastrophic end to their race when a rear tyre valve failed.

“I was going past the F1 pits and felt a shudder as I went to turn into Abbey and the tyre had exploded. At first I wasn’t even sure that it was a tyre and I was lucky it happened there and not on a faster part of the circuit,” said Carroll.

So with the completion of the first hour approaching, it was race over for the Balfe team due to the amount of damage the tyre debris had caused in the rear wheel arch.

“We were on for a good result there, as the strategy was working well for us. Now we look forward to Donington Park at the end of May,” Balfe concluded.

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