Victory marks Balfe and Carroll's return to British GT Championship

By Peter Scherer

Victory for Balfe and Carroll.
Victory for Balfe and Carroll.

Shaun Balfe and Adam Carroll celebrated Balfe Motorsports return to the British GT Championship in the best possible way, with victory the opening round at Oulton Park.

Balfe was out in the first of the weekend's qualifying session and secured pole position for his Audi R8 LMS GT3 by just 0.125 secs, with the top eight covered by less than 0.5 secs.

Sign up to our daily LincolnshireWorld Today newsletter

“We felt happy with the car after testing and confident of our own ability, but didn’t know how everyone else would be," he said.

"Some could have been super quick in free practice due to the tyre usage and it’s the first round with the new tyres. So the competition is relatively unknown to us.

“I did a couple of laps to work up and did my first banker lap on the third. I was in less traffic and got a clear run as well as being updated every lap,” he added.

“I was P1 from about halfway but kept pushing and everything was in good order except for the read out on the dashboard,” he concluded.

Carroll just missed out on pole in the second session, losing out to Jules Gounon’s Mercedes by 0.415 secs.

“I extracted as much as I could out of the car and the driver. I had pole for a while but happy with my lap and the whole team for a good job done,” he said.

Being the polesitter it was Balfe’s task to control the approach to the start and as the lights went out there was early contact as he turned into Old Hall Corner.

“I got away OK and led into the first corner. There was no aggressive input from me and I think I was enough ahead, but the car following gave me two taps and then hit me harder into Cascades which pushed me offline,” he explained.

As he struggled to get the power down there were more problems into Island.

“I went massively sideways and lost lots of places,” he explained after cresting Hilltop in sixth.

Gradually he started to close on the duel for fourth and with the second car off as the pitstop time arrived, he headed for the pitlane to hand to Carroll from fifth place.

“The car seemed to get stronger in the second half of my stint, then I got traffic and just tried to stay in touch and minimise the damage,” Balfe explained.

After the stops Carroll was in third, but it was a big gap to the lead pair. But both of the leaders received penalties and had to stop again, leaving Carroll 3.202 secs ahead of the closing Gounon Mercedes

The gap got smaller and smaller until they came over Deer Leap with a lap to go, side by side.

“Tyres felt slightly misbalanced and I was better in some corners than the Merc. Then I got held up at Druids, he nosed ahead and I just did the best I could and got it back into Cascades, proper racing,” he concluded after taking a sensational victory by 0.455 secs.

It was Carroll’s turn to start the second race and he was comfortably in second for the whole stint, as rain started to fall and the pitstop time arrived.

“That was a hard race, as I struggled to get the tyres working,” he said.

Cars were going off on the dampening track and the race was red flagged while barriers were repaired.

The restart was over 25 minutes and Balfe spent the whole stint trying pass Ian Loggie’s Mercedes.

“It was comfortable following him at first as we had a monster gap over third.

"I gave him space and hoped he would pull away, but he just wasn’t quick enough,” Balfe explained, after taking second on the road.

With the success penalties not served at the stops, they were added onto the final race time, which relegated the Balfe Audi to sixth.

The next round of the Championship is at Silverstone on May 7-8th.