Balfe and Taylor Crowned Spanish GT Champions
Shaun Balfe and Nigel Taylor clinched the Spanish GT Championship in front of 58,000 fans at the Grand Prix venue the Circuit de Catalunya on the outskirts of Barcelona on Sunday afternoon (November 14).
A dramatic final two-hour race was won by the Newark Glass Group backed teams title rivals, Angel Burgueno and Miguel de Castro. However, second place was enough to give the Balfe Motorsport squad the overall title by just a single point, after starting the race from sixth on the grid.
"This is just fantastic," said Balfe. "The team has worked so hard to give myself and Nigel the chance to lift the title and it was made so difficult for us, especially today. I really can't believe it," he added.
Some slick pit-work and flawless driving by Taylor and Balfe allowed them to lead the race twice, as their rivals came into the pits for fuel and tyres. The teams were also claiming double points for the race -- with the first set of points given after the opening hour.
An inspired race strategy by their rivals -- with Burgueno handing the car over to quicker driver de Castro at the end of the first lap -- put them almost a lap down on Balfe in the opening quarter of the race.
When Balfe handed over to Taylor on lap 14 the Mosler was already into the lead after Shaun had passed Jordi Gene in the Seat Cupra GT when he was tapped into a spin by a slower car.
In the final stages of the race, de Castro tried in vain to put Balfe, who had been unable to stay in front of the Marcos LM600 but was following closely, off guard with some not-so-subtle weaving and brake testing antics.
The Marcos pair had lost the title in the final round 12-months earlier, as Balfe had with the British title, and was trying everything possible to stop the Mosler MT900R from following him across the line.
"I was really starting to worry when he began weaving as everything had gone according to plan up to that point," explained Balfe. "I told the team over the radio as soon as he started and it went on for about five laps before we went to the Clerk of the Course who then gave them a warning. After that, he decided to keep a constant pace and it was a case of following him home.
"I know that I said that I hadn't thought about the title this season and I hadn't up until that point, but I came second last year and after the hard work we had all put in, especially this weekend, I wasn't going to go home in that place again!" he added.
Balfe now has a week to get used to the feeling of being the new Spanish GT Champion, before jetting off to Bahrain in the Middle East for a one-off GT Festival, alongside 2003 rival Martin Short in his Mosler, being run by the Balfe squad.