Power reduction makes it hard work for the Balfe Motorsport Team
Following their success in Estorial and Spa Francorchamps, the Balfe Motorsport McLaren 650s GT3 was forced to run with a power reduction in the third round at the Paul Ricard circuit. “It’s a power reduction on the boost control, which probably lost us about 1.2 seconds a lap. It was also applied to the Garage 59 works McLarens too, but it’s got to be reviewed again,” Shaun Balfe explained.
Team mate Rob Bell was out in the first qualifying session and finished fourth overall and second in the Pro Am class. “It was a case of looking after the tyres really as it was hot for the whole weekend,” Balfe added. From the start of Saturday’s race Bell was into second place. Mikkel Mac’s Ferrari got by on lap four and Bell had Giovanni Venturini’s Lamborghini closing too, until all four began to close up. Mac had started to catch Augusto Farfus in the lead BMW, which was dumping oil, Mac became the new leader for a while but was one of many caught out on the oil. Bell maximised the opportunity and was in second place when he too was caught out; he ran wide and lost some places. Balfe jumped in for the second stint and was almost immediately jumped by Vito Postiglione’s Lamborghini and Mario Cioci’s Ferrari, before settling in ninth place and fourth best Pro Am.
It was Balfe’s turn to qualify for race two on Sunday morning. It was a one shot session Balfe due to tyre usage. Although Balfe was only two seconds off Rob’s time he finished 20th overall; which still made Balfe of the top Bronze level drivers. Balfe started the race and was immediately embroiled in a racelong duel with Valentin Pierburg’s Mercedes. They had exchanged places twice on the first two laps before Balfe headed the fight from lap seven, in 18th overall. “I towed him back to challenge the next group too and we were still together at the pitstop too,” he said.
As the pitstop window opened he was first to stop with Bell back in the car to take it to the finish. A steady climb over the next few laps brought him back to 13th before taking Mikael Grenier’s Lamborghini for 12th.
“It was another tough weekend for us, but we salvaged points and managed to consolidate with the penalties we were given, so we are still in with a shout for the title,” Balfe concluded after taking fifth in the Pro Am class.
The championship now moves on to the Hungaroring July 2/3, before visiting Silverstone for the UK round.
The Balfe Motorsport team are still second in the Pro Am class and seventh overall.