Balfe Motorsport conclude British GT Championship campaign
The 2021 Intelligent Money British GT Championship concluded at Donington Park, and for Balfe Motorsport - who can look back on a good season, even if the final round didn’t bring the high as hoped.
Fielding the no5 McLaren 720S GT3 for Stewart and Lewis Proctor as well as the no90 570S GT4 for Jack Brown and Ashley Marshall, the two pairings finished ninth and fifth respectively, although the former was again second in the Silver-Am classification, a crown they had already sealed.
Testing took place on Thursday ahead of official practice and qualification on Saturday afternoon.
The very nature of Donington Park means that qualifying is especially key to a strong result, with passing traditionally difficult.
Having shown great pace in the Thursday test, where Lewis was second fastest, it was unfortunate that a red flag on Stewart’s first qualifying run disrupted the momentum.
With the track back to green, he encountered one of the Bentley’s on his final push lap and therefore compromised the starting position. Meanwhile, Jack had a relatively clear run in his qualifying session, but Ashley had his best lap disallowed for track limits.
Sunday’s ninth and final round was a two-hour race with wet conditions in the first stint, and a drying track in the second.
Stewart, by his own admission, got a little greedy at the start, taking a tighter line into Redgate, accelerating hard at the apex, and then spinning on to the infield.
He had started 11th, but by the end of the opening lap found himself at the back of the 26-car field.
He persevered, making his way back ahead of the GT4 runners and by lap 24, had closed to the gap to ninth-laced Mia Flewitt ahead.
Lewis took over mid-distance, resuming the chase of the no21 McLaren, but ultimately had to be content with the ninth-place finish overall, second in Silver-Am.
Jack took the opening stint in the no90 GT4 from seventh position and made best use of the tricky damp conditions to first pass Matt Topham and then James Kell.
The pitstop took place on lap 30, with Jack handing over to Ashley.
Unfortunately, the team had called him in seconds too early and the pit window had yet to open. Ashley, therefore, returned to the pits to serve a two-second stop-go penalty shortly afterwards and that sealed the fifth-place result.
There are many highlights from the season, not least the Spa-Francorchamps race weekend where Lewis and Stewart took an outright podium position, while Jack and Ashley took the GT4 race win.
Lewis said: "It was good fun adjusting to the drying track but bittersweet being out of position with the potential we showed earlier in the weekend.
"We have both certainly enjoyed the event, if not the result.
"It’s been a good season and we now take a break and start to think about next year.”
Ashley added: "I’m very happy with the season with Balfe Motorsport, my first year in GT racing, and we know that we did a better job than the results show.
"We all made some mistakes over the year but onwards to the next one and we see what that brings.”