Motorsport Spirit-KIA Mosler
FIA GT Championship Round 2 – Magny-Cours
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.
“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.”
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.
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
Balfe Motorsport will next be in action at the ‘home’
race of the season, at Silverstone in just over two weeks’