The Balfe Motorsport team nearly made a triumphant return to the British GT Championship at Thruxton at the weekend, after taking pole position and second place starting positions for the two races. However, the weekend came to a dramatic halt for...
The Balfe Motorsport team nearly made a triumphant return to the British GT Championship at Thruxton at the weekend, after taking pole position and second place starting positions for the two races. However, the weekend came to a dramatic halt for the team just before the end of the first race, with Balfe being spun out of the race at over 150mph.
The Newark Glass Group backed squad had starred in the wet qualifying sessions on Sunday, making the rest of the series regular's sit-up and take notice of its return. A superb drive by Nigel Taylor in the first half of the race meant Balfe returned to the race after the driver changeover in good shape and inherited the lead.
A battle with one of the front running Scuderia Ecosse Ferrari's looked on the cards as the newer, more modern machine hunted Balfe down towards the closing stages of the race. The crowds cheered as the Mosler MT900R went up against the Ferrari in the last few laps in what was a classic cat and mouse chase.
With just three laps to go though, the dream return for the team turned to a nightmare when Balfe was tagged by the Ferrari on the run up to the final chicane,, with both cars traveling in excess of 150mph. Balfe was pitched into a violent spin that sent him off the circuit and forced the windscreen out of the car.
Balfe rejoined the race and immediately went into the pit-lane to have the car checked over. The team made a handful of hasty repairs and sent the car back out for the last two laps. The damage caused in the spin made him spin once again, this time more slowly at the chicane on the penultimate lap, but the team was still able to claim fourth place at the flag.
"I don't remember too much about the spin to be honest, it all happened that fast," said Balfe. "I pulled across to pass a back marker N-GT class Porsche, who was also lapping a slower Cup Class car."
"I didn't expect the Ferrari to try and go for the gap in between us and when the car went everything just happened so fast. I remember the windscreen being blown out, that was pretty frightening, but then the car had come to a rest and I just put it in gear and carried on," he added.
"It's very disappointing for the whole team as we obviously had the pace to win races this weekend and it would have been a great way to come back into the championship. As it is we only have a handful of days to repair the car before we go out to Valencia for the next round of the Spanish GT Championship, so it's going to be a long, hard week for the team now," said Balfe.
The team heads across to Spain next week for the next round of the Spanish series, taking place at the challenging Valencia circuit from the 9th to the 12th September.