Motorsport Spirit-KIA Mosler
FIA GT Championship Round 7– Oschersleben
Balfe Team Bows Out With Third - And Another G2 Win
It felt a little
strange to be ending the FIA GT season at Oschersleben. It has been
a short year for the Spirit Kia-backed Balfe Motorsport team, but
the next level of competition has been just what it needed and it
has definitely been able to raise its game on the international
The Oschersleben weekend went really well for the
whole team, especially as it was effectively starting from scratch.
Jamie Derbyshire and Shaun Balfe both went for a run around the
circuit on Thursday evening, and even the lads in the team took
a walk round on Thursday afternoon, to get some idea of what might
be needed set-up wise.
The free-practice sessions went really well. Both
drivers got up to speed very quickly, with only a handful of laps
required before they were where they needed to be.
Shaun Balfe soon found that any chance of being
closer to the GruppeM cars was out of the question though.
“I followed one of them for a couple of laps
and through the quick chicane they were just so quick. They can
ride the kerbs so hard where we can’t, and it costs us so
much time,” he said. “We noticed that we were quicker
than both of them through the final sector of the lap though, which
was good, but we certainly won’t be on them over the course
of a single lap.”
With both Jamie and Shaun quicker than the relative
pairings behind them on the grid, it was a case of concentrate on
race set-up and see where the three-hour race led. The Mosler has
performed faultlessly since Magny-Cours, and with the GruppeM cars
suffering from the occasional mechanical problem over the first
half of the year, a surprise result was always a possibility.
Shaun managed to put the Mosler third on the GT2
grid, just over a second away from the Lieb / Rockenfeller car and
comfortably ahead of the Ebimotors Porsche behind.
The start of the race might have caused a few problems
when Shaun set off on the green flag lap and found that he couldn’t
see the start lights, as the Mosler was lower than the roofline
of the Porsche in front of him!
Team manager Simon Ranyard had to give a radio signal
when the lights went green, which actually worked out better for
Shaun than expected, as it seemed the GT1 Saleen in front of the
Rockenfeller Porsche also couldn’t see it and the Mosler was
able to power past into the first corner.
The glory was to be short-lived, though, as by the
end of the opening lap Shaun was back in third, but pulling away
comfortably from the cars behind, and settling in for his long opening
The first hour of the race went by really quickly
for the team and with no dramas the first pit-stop to hand over
to Jamie went very smoothly. As the team watched the GruppeM cars
make contact with each other, it looked like a surprise win might
even be on the cards.
However, from mid-way through the race Jamie started
to encounter a problem. A slightly sticking throttle was causing
some understeer in certain sections of the track. Jamie came on
the radio and warned the team about it, but carried on and his lap-times
didn’t drop off, so he had everything under control.
With just a handful of laps left in his middle stint
it happened again, at just the place he didn’t need it, as
he entered the fast chicane: the resulting understeer meant that
a swift trip across the gravel was unavoidable.
Jamie was straight
on the radio to tell the team, but the car seemed ok, apart from
a lot of stones gathered underneath, so the team kept him out up
to the end of his run, and gave the Mosler a check over as Balfe
climbed back aboard.
Shaun immediately radioed in on his first flying
lap to report that the throttle was still giving the same problems,
but that he thought he could drive around it for the final 25-minutes
of the race. The team was discussing what might have been causing
the problem, but without stopping the car and losing time there
was no real way of knowing.
It was thought that rubber pick-up was probably
the most likely cause, as there had been a lot of that during the
course of the weekend. As the car was basically running fine, team
and drivers decided to maintain their two-lap lead over their nearest
challenger and get to the chequered flag.
“The car was great when I first went out,”
said Jamie. “I got straight into a rhythm and was able to
hold the lead that Shaun had built up quite comfortably. The problem
just started without warning and I was kind of able to pre-empt
when it was going to do it. But unfortunately it just caught me
at the wrong point on the track and the gravel was the only real
option open to me!
“The car felt fine afterwards, so it obviously
didn’t do any damage, it was just a little bit tricky to drive
in places, but we had a good cushion over the guys behind us, so
we weren’t worried,” he said.
Shaun was able to stay at a pace that kept the lead
intact and the final race of the year for the Spirit Kia Mosler
would result in a third place finish in GT2, with another ‘G2’
The whole team has enjoyed this year in the FIA
GT Championship. The organisers have been so helpful and the level
of competition at the front is extremely high. There’s definitely
a certain amount of pride that the Balfe squad has been able to
step up to the international arena, and has been somewhat of a thorn
in the side of the front running GT2 team from the start of the
By the time the timetable too the entrants to Brno
the rest of the teams had started to pay more attention to the Spirit
Kia Mosler. Despite not being in a points-scoring position, the
GruppeM team was certainly aware of the cars presence on the GT2
“It was nice to see at Brno that the GruppeM
drivers were taking us seriously when Tim Sugden acknowledged that
he had qualified fourth, including us in the GT2 category. I know
that we haven’t been taking points off them, but to be acknowledged
as a car to beat on the track is the next best thing,” said
“We are hoping to be back in 2006 and are
working towards it,” said Balfe, at the post race press conference.
“Hopefully we can take the battle to the front of the GT2
After dramas at the opening two races (Monza and Magny-Cours), the
Spirit Kia Mosler has finished second, third, second and third in
‘GT2’ at Silverstone, Imola, Brno and Oschersleben –
and has of course won the G2 class on every occasion.
The two drivers still have a Mosler race to come
– the Britcar 24 Hours, on September 10-11.