BALFE BATTLES THROUGH IN BUDAPEST

The Balfe Motorsport team battled against illness and almost running out of fuel to record a ninth place finish in the latest round of the FIA GT Championship, at the Hungaroring near Budapest at the weekend.

Portuguese racer Joao Barbosa was partnering regular driver Shaun Balfe for the event and two superb stints by him meant that the team was assured of ninth place as the chequered flag was being readied.

However, as the race leader crossed the line for his last lap, Joao radioed the Balfe team to tell them that the low fuel warning alarm had come up on the dashboard. The Saleen S7R was almost half a lap behind the leading car and it would force the Balfe car onto another tour of the 4.3km circuit, a lap that it might not complete.

The team swiftly checked where the race leader was on the track and advised Joao to back off and let him past, removing the need to do another lap. As he rounded the final corner, almost at a standstill, Joao was able to let the race winner through and follow him across the line.

"It was a very close call at the end of the race," explained Shaun Balfe. "The team knew that it was going to be tight on fuel from the opening stop and the refuellers were on standby in case Joao had to pit on the penultimate lap for a splash of fuel.

"We were surprised that the leader didn't ease off a lap earlier as he crossed the line with only seven seconds left on the clock. That would have made life easier for us too," he smiled.

"Joao did a brilliant job all weekend, especially in the opening and final parts of the race and his lap times were so consistent every time he was in the car. He was a great part of the team, especially this weekend."

The meeting was a tough one for Balfe as he suffered with a chest infection and with high temperatures in Hungary over the weekend it made life difficult in the cockpit of the Saleen S7R.

After Balfe and Barbosa had worked on the set-up of the car during the course of the two free practice sessions Shaun decided that he was only fit enough for a single stint behind the wheel in the three hour race.

His time in the car was also made more difficult when he found the drink system and cool suit were not working, meaning he was dehydrating incredibly quickly inside the car.

"I don't often drink that much when I'm in the car but the one time that I really needed to the switch had broken on the steering wheel and I wasn't able to get anything," said Balfe. "It definitely made life more difficult, although we didn't expect it to be this hot in Hungary," he added.

-credit: bm