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Balfe Motorsport Spirit-KIA Mosler
FIA GT Championship Round 2 – Magny-Cours

Qualifying

The Balfe Motorsport Team lined up in second place on the FIA GT2 grid at the French Grand Prix venue of Magny-Cours, following another superb qualifying performance.

The Mosler MT900R once again aimed to take the fight to the factory backed Porsche 911 GT3-RSR team during the opening 45-minute session. Shaun Balfe set a time good enough for third place on the grid, as the circuit started to heat up in the extremely hot weather.

A repeat of its Monza grid position was sealed by the end of the second, slower, afternoon session. However, the morning times for the number 66 works Porsche were dismissed, meaning that it would start from fourth on the grid, promoting the Mosler up one place in the process.

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“We’re very pleased with the way the car has performed in qualifying once again,” said Shaun Balfe. “We are still a little way from the pace of the Porsches, but we’ve closed the gap a little since Monza and the team is working very hard to keep our momentum going from race to race. Hopefully we can turn this into a good race result this weekend.”

Jamie Derbyshire went out in the second half of the opening qualifying session, but suffered a minor set-back, when he was hit by one of the Saleen GT1 cars at the first hairpin. Derbyshire had seen the faster car in his mirrors and had left it plenty of room as they both went into the corner, only for the driver of the other car to cut across him just before turning in.

“I’m happy with the car and both Shaun and I have got a good race pace. I know that I can go a bit quicker but I was angry that my session was cut short because of the GT1 car. The car is fine though and I’m looking forward to the race. It’s going to be hard work in the heat.”

Race
Jamie Derbyshire split the Scottish Ferraris in the race morning warm-up, and Shaun Balfe then started the race in the Spirit-KIA backed Balfe Motorsport Mosler, but had to concede his second place as the #66 Porsche worked its way past on the opening lap. However, a hard charging Balfe managed to stay with the leading pair for the opening handful of laps, before the hot track made it difficult to stay in contention.

A great drive kept him almost 10 seconds clear of the chasing Ferraris, before he handed over the Jamie Derbyshire for the second stint - as the safety car was called out.

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Some slick pit-work by the team meant that Jamie resumed in third place, holding the Ferraris at bay for another 30 minutes of the three-hour race. Mechanical problems were to intervene on the team’s – so far – perfect run. A gear selection cable suffered under the intense heat and melted, leaving Derbyshire with no gears.

He dived into the pits and the team decided to change the cable, sending Balfe back into the fray after losing almost 12 laps.

A great effort allowed him to gain over a lap on the G2 class leader - until the same problem happened again, this time forcing Balfe out of the race.

“It’s disappointing to not make it to the end of the race,” said Balfe. “The weekend started so well and we were looking good for a podium result behind the Porsches once again. But unfortunately the heat got too much for the cable and it meant that we couldn’t select gears when we needed to.

“We can still take plenty of positives away from the weekend though,” he added. “We were still the best privateer team against the factory cars and we think we have narrowed the gap a little bit more to them since Monza too. We just have to keep chipping away at it and see what happens over the course of the year.”

Balfe Motorsport will next be in action at the ‘home’ race of the season, at Silverstone in just over two weeks’ time.

 

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