Sleaford's Balfe stars at Snetterton in British GT Championship

Shaun Balfe leads into a corner at Snetterton.Shaun Balfe leads into a corner at Snetterton.
Shaun Balfe leads into a corner at Snetterton.
​Sleaford’s Shaun Balfe and Sandy Mitchell were on the top step of the podium after their Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3 dominated the first of two British GT races at Snetterton last weekend.

It had been a successful qualifying session which saw Balfe start Sunday morning’s race from pole position.

Balfe said: “With changes in temperature the feel of the track changed and we made minor adjustments to keep a good balance in the handling.

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“We were straight into P2 and then improved and got pole. The set up we finished with was perfect for the first race too.”

As the lights went out Balfe timed his start to perfection and pulled out a couple of lengths on his rivals in the opening lap.

“I just read the lights at the start, took the traditional line into Riches Turn One, had a gap and didn’t have to defend,” he said.

Darren Leung’s BMW briefly closed, until he was under pressure for second place. “I could see where the BMW was strong and where I was and monitored the second place battle. But I was surprised I got away so quickly,” he added.

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After five laps the lead had grown to 2.697 secs and continued to increase, and as the pitstop window approached it was up to 5.881 secs.

Most of the leaders pitted after 11 laps, but Balfe led the top four in a lap later, as the crew sent Mitchell back out, lead intact and with new tyres all round.

Mitchell continued to manage the gap and finally took the flag and victory by over 11 secs from the Leung/Harper BMW.

For the second race they lined up in seventh place on the grid, with Mitchell in for the first stint.

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The first half was a fairly processional affair, with Mitchell retaining seventh, but the lead trio had edged away as the field spread out.

He had just made it into sixth as the pitstop window opened, but with an extra ten seconds success penalty to spend in the pits, it proved to be a tough second half for Balfe.

“The car felt very good, I was following Mark Smith’s ninth placed McLaren and he was making a few mistakes,” he said.

As time began to run out his chance finally came when Smith when into Murrays too deep on lap 32. “I managed to get down the inside and blocked Smith, but Kevin Tse’s McLaren had the pace on the exit and I could only block one of them,” Balfe explained, after he exited still in tenth place.

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Although they were tenth on the road at the flag, they gained one place after post-race penalties were added, which leaves them in fifth place in the Championship, with the away weekend at Portimao next on the calendar on July 22/23.

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