Balfe Motorsport enjoyed a successful weekend at the opening round of the British GT Championship. Held at a scorching Oulton Park, Graham Johnson and Michael O’Brien took third place in race one, plus a double podium in race two coming from the back to secure the Pro-Am win and second overall in class.
A few gremlins hindered the McLaren 570S GT4 during qualifying, meaning Graham and Michael were unable to showcase the pace which they had shown during free practice. What started as a disappointing weekend begun to improve after the duo climbed their way from the back of the grid to take the last step on the podium despite contact during the early laps of the first one-hour race.
The positive momentum continued with Michael running in the top before handing over to his team-mate after a quick change in strategy during race two, pitting under a safety car. Graham had a number of clean battles and brought the car home to a truly deserved victory and second overall after a difficult start to the 2019 season. This was even more impressive as he managed to avoid chaos around him and was unaware of his position in the race as the radio was not working.
Unfortunately, due to an electrical issue that the team were unable to resolve at the track, the 720S GT3 had to be withdrawn from the opening round on Saturday evening.
Preparations for the next round at Snetterton, May 18-19, are in full swing with the hope of another successful weekend in the pipeline.
“Obviously, we had our little technical issue in qualifying which meant I had to start last and Michael had to start 13th which wasn’t ideal. The car wasn’t as balanced in the first race as it was in the second, but I think we were relieved to come through to eighth and more than happy, it was a good recovery. The second race was great, when Michael got clear of [Will] Moore and then I lost the radio when I got out there, so I didn’t really know what was going on. I just decided to try and race everything and see what would happen. The car felt absolutely epic and credit to the guys because I think that’s the recovery of the century to come from last in qualifying to second. Snetterton is next and we will come away from Oulton on such a high that we’ll carry forward.”
“Our weekend was a bit up and down. Practice went fairly well for us; we were top five in terms of pace looking forward to qualifying and it was just one of those sessions where it didn’t quite go our way for both of us so we were very much out of position on the grid to where we should be. We knew we had work to do in the races but also knew we had the car to do that and as a team we all did a mega job. Finishing second overall this afternoon after a podium in race one means it’s been a pretty epic weekend since Saturday. I’m really looking forward to Snetterton and hoping we can keep the momentum going from what we’ve had this weekend. Hopefully we’ll come away with more points to stay up there in the Championship.”