Balfe Motorsport will arrive at Oulton Park for the opening rounds of the British GT Championship this Easter weekend (April 19-22) with its brand-new McLaren 720S GT3, alongside the class-leading McLaren 570S GT4.
The team will be hoping for better weather at the 2.6-mile Cheshire circuit after atrocious conditions last year curtailed any racing laps in the second of the two one-hour contests which traditionally open the season.
2017 International GT Open Pro-Am Champions Shaun Balfe and McLaren Factory Driver Rob Bell will line up in the stunning new McLaren 720S GT3 whilst the 570S GT4 will be piloted by 2016 GT4 Champion and two-time Pro-Am title winner Graham Johnson and Michael O’Brien, a member of the McLaren Driver Development Programme.
Track action kicks off on
The opening race of the British GT Championship season begins at 11:15 before a second one-hour contest that afternoon at 15:35. Continuing its excellent coverage for fans, the official SRO YouTube channel, GTWorld, will carry live coverage of qualifying and both races, while the Balfe Motorsport social media channels will have behind-the-scenes action for fans across the weekend.
“Oulton Park, GT3, and GT4 always has a bit of spice. It is a really satisfying lap. It is quite technical: quick in places and slow and tight in others. I’ve had good results there over the years so fingers crossed we have another one of those. It’s a bit nerve-wracking because for a lot of us it’s our first race of the year so we’re a bit rusty. It is the first indication of how well-prepared everyone is, so it is exciting but also a nervous time because it can have an impact on the rest of the year.
“Everyone at the team is ready and it will be good to get back together in the same stable and get cracking. There’s been a long build up to it, so everyone is keen to get the show on the road and build up to Monday’s races.”
“It’s brilliant that we’re going to Oulton Park as it is a fantastic place to drive. It is only when you start racing that you realise it is quite a narrow track for these cars and it is quite challenging with its undulation and kerbs.
“It is a little bit of a step into the unknown for us. I know Balfe very well and we’ve run McLarens together in the past, but this is a new proposition. A lot of the other cars on the grid are new as well so we’re going there with a big question mark. From what we’ve seen from the car it’s so far, so good. There’s a lot of positivity.
“More than half of my job is making sure Shaun is happy, comfortable, and clear in what he is doing. He is an exceptionally good driver when you consider he has a proper day job! I’m sure it takes him time to get into race mode, but we work together well. He’s had a bit of a race drought and he’s ready to get out there as well so ultimately the whole team is ready to spring into action but let’s see how it goes. At Oulton Park you always need a bit of luck so why can’t it be us?”
“There’s no pressure on Michael because I’ve never not been on the podium at Oulton Park! Hopefully we can get another one. It’s going to be tough as there are a lot of good Silver/Silver pairings but at the same time I benchmark myself against Silver drivers, so I think we’ll be there or thereabouts.
“Mike now has an insert in the seat for the first time, which we think will make a major difference for him. We want to give him everything he needs to be quick. Michael is fast so, as far as I’m concerned, we want to remove any hinderance in his way. In my view if we look after each other and give each other what we need then we’ll be quicker.”
“I had a strong result at Oulton Park in my debut weekend last season. We all share the same goal to be on the podium and hopefully take the top step overall. Pre-season has gone well so far this year and we’ve shown good pace. Hopefully we can challenge at in the opening two races.
“Last year I didn’t run a seat insert with a driver as tall as Graham so I couldn’t reach full throttle. This year I can, and I can see over the dash as well, so these are small things Graham and the team are helping with.”