Fulbeck racer Shaun Balfe will again take to the race circuits of Europe next week in his quest for the International GT Open crown.
He starts his busy year with the opening rounds at Estoril in Portugal this weekend where he will be hoping his McLaren 650S GT3 car can match the victory secured at the venue last year in his Ferrari.
“We go straight into testing on Thursday afternoon and more testing on Friday before we qualify for the race grid positions,” said Balfe.
“Although I won there last year, I suspect it will not be so easy this time, as the standard is up, the number of cars and the professionalism, too. So I think we will have a tough year ahead.”
Having secured the runner-up spot in the championship last season, Balfe is setting his target on a top five finish along with some podiums.
He said: “If we don’t achieve that I will be disappointed, but I have never raced with Rob Bell as my partner before, and we only spent time together testing at Snetterton earlier in the year, when it was seven degrees and wet.”
He admits to being behind the other teams in pre-season testing, but remains confident.
“We have a car we know well and got on well with last year. So we hope to pick up where we left off,” Balfe added.
“We know qualifying is going to be critical and hard. It’s harder than finding race pace, understanding grip levels, etc.”
With a mix of talent and experience in this year’s championship, the team accept they will need consistency and reliability to collect solid points from each race.
He added: “Last year we just took one weekend at a time. Estoril has been good to us before and so we hope it will be again.”