Valuable GT Open Championship points in Belgium for Grantham area racing team Balfe
Rounds three and four of the International GT Open Championship at Spa Francorchamps brought plenty of close racing, and more importantly for Balfe Motorsport, 16 valuable points.
This was courtesy of two great Pro-Am class runner-up positions from Shaun Balfe and Adam Carroll.
The start of the season at Paul Ricard brought the first Silverware, but this weekend in Belgium, the team went one better, securing podiums in both rounds in the new Audi R8 LMS GT3. With an additional 16 points on the board, Shaun and Adam move into a strong third position in the title race.
Following a test at Silverstone last week and some valuable extra seat time for Shaun, the team arrived at Spa confident that gains had been made. This played out in Friday practice with both drivers honing the #22 Audi for the challenge of qualifying and the two races ahead.
Shaun qualified eighth, fourth in class for Saturday’s 70-minute race but unfortunately for him, lengthy safety car periods, again ensured that he got very little actual racing track time. Indeed, as the race returned to green, Shaun pitted and handed over the car to Adam in fifth position.
Adam wasted no time in dispatching the #11 of Jens Reno Moller, others soon followed after another typically spirited drive. By lap 24, he ran in third position, and with the #47 of Loris Spinelli spinning ahead,
took the finishing flag in second.
Heavy rain dowsed the Ardennes following the race, so much so that qualifying on Sunday morning was pushed back over an hour due to circuit issues. Qualifying though was again bone dry and Adam was impressive from the outset, claiming the provisional pole on his first run, pitting, and then finding additional time to secure the number one spot on the grid, whilst maintaining his 100
per cent P1 qualifying statistic.
Sunday’s race saw him lead away from the pole position, very much fighting to maintain the advantage in a thrilling opening stint. Spinelli certainly pushed Adam, especially in the opening half dozen laps, but the Balfe Motorsport racer retained his place at the head of the field ahead of the mandated pitstop, and subsequent five second success time penalty.
Shaun resumed in second position and quickly put a successful move on Spinelli’s #47 teammate Alexander Moiseev for the class lead. Close behind however, former F1 racer Christian Klien was looming and with seven laps remaining, Shaun was unable to stop him powering by on the Kemmel Straight. The closing laps saw pressure from behind, but ultimately, at the chequered flag, the team were able to celebrate second position in as many days.
Adam said: “It was a very good weekend for the team, two-second places and an overall Pole. We worked hard to keep improving all weekend, Shaun drove really well, we both raced hard and kept pushing to the end. Two well deserved podiums for the team.”
Shaun added: “I felt much more comfortable than I did at Paul Ricard and it’s immensely satisfying to be able to race such strong drivers. All in all, we can be very happy with the race weekend, the podiums, the pole and the points.”
The next round of the GT Open Championship takes place in Hungary, but before that the team will be out racing in the British GT Championship at the Silverstone 500.