Testing times for Fulbeck driver Shaun Balfe

The season curtainraiser at Oulton Park will be Balfe Motorsport's first British GT appearance since a one-off outing at Rockingham in 2013 EMN-180503-095039002
The season curtainraiser at Oulton Park will be Balfe Motorsport's first British GT appearance since a one-off outing at Rockingham in 2013 EMN-180503-095039002

Racing driver Shaun Balfe and co-driver Rob Bell are stepping up preparations for their return to the British racing scene after their first test of the season at Donington Park.

Having finished as pro-am champions in last year’s International GT Open, the pair are returning to the British GT grid for the 2018 season.

Their Balfe Motorsport McLaren 650S GT3 used Michelin tyres last season, but in the British championship they have to run on Pirelli, forcing some changes in the car’s set-up.

“Rob did most of the early part of the session, doing a set-up as we went straight onto the Pirelli tyres,” said Fulbeck racer Balfe.

For the last 30 minutes of the morning session Balfe took to the wheel for the first time himself since last year’s title clincher at the Catalunya GP in Barcelona in October.

“We brought the car along exactly as we had left it at the end of last season and just adjusted it gradually throughout the day,” he added.

“We changed the springs, but it wasn’t easy as the track and tyre temperatures were fairly low.”

Three further outings are planned before Easter’s opening round at Oulton Park.

They visit the Cheshire circuit to test before the official launch and media day takes place there later this month.

Their final pre-season run will then take place at Snetterton.

Balfe finished second in the 2003 British GT standings with co-driver Jamie Derbyshire, but believes British GT3 will provide a stern test.

“Rob and I have been racing the 650S for the last year-and-a-half and we enjoy a great Pro/Am relationship,” he said. “But there’s a lot of unknowns this season and we expect to start on the back foot.”