Fulbeck team cap British GT Championship season with win

Shaun Balfe and Rob Bell celebrate in traditional fashion EMN-190918-172911002
Shaun Balfe and Rob Bell celebrate in traditional fashion EMN-190918-172911002

Balfe Motorsport saved the best until last as they finally earned a maiden victory with their McLaren 720S GT3 in the British GT Championship.

The Fulbeck-based team took the win at Donington Park in the final round of the championship.

Fulbeck racer Balfe built up a huge lead as the team ended the season in the perfect way Picture: Brian Tyler EMN-190918-172816002

Fulbeck racer Balfe built up a huge lead as the team ended the season in the perfect way Picture: Brian Tyler EMN-190918-172816002

Signs were good early on in the meeting when Shaun Balfe set the quickest time in the GT3 Am qualifying session.

“We used some of our testing knowledge and made a few changes for qualifying, but nothing drastic,” he explained.

“The car had felt good all day and I had the first new tyre run in my session.

“Although I was chuffed with my time, I still felt I could have done better.”

With co-driver Rob Bell second quickest in the Pro’s, their aggregate times were enough to secure pole position for the second race running.

There was a fairly chaotic start with a collision before the race had even started, but Balfe led the field around for three laps before charging clear from the green flag.

Within a lap he had gone more than two seconds clear, and had doubled that a lap later.

The squabbles for position behind only increased the lead and after 17 laps it had grown to 15.168secs.

When Balfe made his pitstop after 41 laps he had pulled out more than 28 seconds on the rest of the field.

“I had expected a scrap, but it worked in our favour as we were clear of it,” Balfe said.

“At one time I thought I had a puncture and was hearing imaginary noises and vibration as I was so far ahead.”

There was an extra 15 seconds success penalty to be served before Bell rejoined in third place.

But the Aston Martins of Oli Wilkinson and Mark Farmer both had yet to pit which handed Bell a 15-second lead with 48 minutes on the clock.

The lead continued to grow, but as the final half-hour approached, out came the safety car and wiped out the lead.

“I wasn’t best pleased to see it as I thought the win was in the bag,” he explained.

There were only 22 minutes left when the green flag was waved, but although Bell responded well, his lead was only 2.899secs as traffic started to come into play, bringing Callum Macleod’s Mercedes ever closer.

With seven minutes left, Macleod was only 0.873secs behind, but Bell responded yet again and took a well-deserved victory by 2.728secs.

“Fortunately we had a lapped car between us so it didn’t allow him to challenge,” said Bell.

Balfe added: “That win is just so good for the whole team, so deserving.

“It just finished the season off for us all perfectly, and just showed what the McLaren could do.”