BALFE FIGHTS BACK FROM MONZA MIS-FORTUNE The Balfe Motorsport team had a dramatic opening weekend in the FIA GT Championship at Monza in Italy at the weekend. After setting the third fastest qualifying time in its class an accident in the...
BALFE FIGHTS BACK FROM MONZA MIS-FORTUNE
The Balfe Motorsport team had a dramatic opening weekend in the FIA GT Championship at Monza in Italy at the weekend. After setting the third fastest qualifying time in its class an accident in the first part of the race meant they came away with an unclassified finish, despite fantastic efforts by the team to repair the car.
Jamie Derbyshire took the wheel of the Mosler MT900R for the start of the race and had to concede third place to one of the Porsche's as the field dived into the first chicane. As soon as the opening lap scramble was over he immediately started posting consistent and competitive laps, holding on to fourth place.
Despite a loss of radio communication with the team Derbyshire stuck to the pit-stop strategy and told the squad he was coming to hand over to Shaun Balfe. However, as he rounded the last corner and dived towards the pit-entrance he made contact with one of the faster GT1 cars, causing severe damage to the right hand side of the car.
Jamie had to limp around another full lap with damaged suspension to give the team a chance to make repairs and get them back into the action.
The repair time put them 20 laps behind the class leaders. However, Balfe was able to rejoin and bring the car home to take the flag in his first FIA GT event. Unfortunately, the rules state that cars have to cover at least 70 percent of the race winner's distance and the Mosler fell short by just two laps at the chequered flag.
"It's certainly not the result that we were looking for in our first race," said Balfe. "It was a difficult race for us but we are pleased that we got the car to the end. I'm so proud of the lads in the team. They did a fantastic job to get the car back out there so quickly. It proved that we've got the ability to match the rest of the teams in the pit-lane in that aspect."
"We've got a lot of positives to take away from the weekend, especially the qualifying speed of the Mosler against the rest of the GT2 field. We were only slower than the factory Porsches, which means that we are competitive straight away. That's both surprised and pleased us. But for sure it's not the kind of result we would have wished for," he added.
The team now has a three week break to regroup before heading to Magny-Cours in France for the next round of the championship, where they will be up against some more familiar faces.
"The Magny-Cours race is one of the ones I'm looking forward to the most this year," said Balfe. "It's one of the circuits I already know and have raced on before and we believe that the car will be good there. But we will also be racing against the British GT Championship teams too, as they have been invited to take part."
"It will put a handful of quick cars on the grid, including another Mosler, so it will mean a few more people we know in the paddock during the weekend," he added.