Motorsport Spirit-KIA Mosler
FIA GT Championship Round 3 – Silverstone
There was a
distinct plan of attack for the Balfe Motorsport team at Silverstone
at the weekend. Get to the finish!
The first two
rounds of the championship had promised plenty – with third
on the GT2/G2 grid behind the works Porsches at both attempts. However,
it had left the Newark Glass Group, KIA Spirit and Spirit Volkswagen-backed
team with one non-classified result and a non-finish. So, seeing
the chequered flag without problems was its main ambition.
gave the team the chance to fine tune the Spirit Kia Mosler to Silverstone’s
International layout. There was the strange quirk that for once
this year here was a track that Shaun Balfe had raced on (and won
at too - the opening round of the 2001 British GT Championship),
whereas Jamie Derbyshire, a man with a year’s FIA GT under
his belt already, had never raced on the International circuit.
the Grand Prix circuit in 2003 and used the national layout when
we were in Radicals,” he said. “I had to ask Shaun which
way the corners went after Copse before the first session!”
The cooler weather
on Friday meant that getting an ideal set-up was proving harder
than the team would have liked, with the front end of the Mosler
struggling for grip in certain corners. It wasn’t a major
issue though and both drivers were happy that they had a car that
was good for three hours come Sunday morning. The team was noticeably
closer to the two GruppeM cars than at either of the two previous
rounds, the twisty nature of the smaller circuit clearly suiting
Saturday qualifying session proved to be a short lived boost for
the team, with Shaun ending the session in P2, with a time of 1m
21.152. The Collard / Sugden Porsche was struggling throughout the
session (with a rear wheel bearing that was about to fail), setting
a time slower than it had done the day before in free practice.
The team knew
that the Porsche would be capable of going quicker in the second
session and Shaun was ready to have another go at keeping his position.
An incredibly busy track left him frustrated, though, his tyres
coming good on a lap that was too busy, and ending any chance of
improving the time.
there was a bit more to come,” said Shaun, “maybe a
couple of tenths. I felt the tyres come in but I had too much traffic
to get a decent run. It’s a shame but we’re certainly
knocking on the door of the Porches around here in qualifying trim.
We’re hoping that people will start to see that the Mosler
is a viable option to race against the Porsches at this level.”
was compounded even more when Collard managed a time that was just
one tenth of a second faster than the Mosler. A solid result on
race day was still at the forefront of the team’s mind though,
and they were happy with being ever closer to the GruppeM squad.
morning started with some banter in the team garage, this weekend
being shared with the Eclipse Mosler squad. The Balfe crew have
known the Eclipse boys for a few seasons now so, it was no surprise
that mickey-taking was high on the agenda over the course of the
Simon Ranyard was first in line for the flack when he was asked
if he’d seen the image of himself on DSC’s Saturday
gallery (right)! The image of Jamie standing behind him looking
like he was about to give him a slap gave the Eclipse boys plenty
of ammunition for an early Sunday start. All we can say is that
Goodwin and Lord maybe ought to avoid the garage for a round or
Jamie took the
helm for the warm-up and immediately got up to speed, setting his
quickest time of the weekend so far, on full-tanks. The short 15-minute
session passed without incident and a swift pre-race prep. made
sure the car was good to go as soon as the pit-lane opened at 9:50am.
A demon start
by Shaun meant that he got alongside the two works Porsches as the
field dived into Copse for the first time. As he had the inside
line he considered holding his position and taking the lead. However,
the thought of seeing the chequered flag once again crossed his
mind, and he decided that tucking back in was a better course of
a great start and could have easily just held the car up the inside,”
said Shaun afterwards. “It was very tempting but winning the
first corner compared to finishing three hours wasn’t really
on, so I backed out of it and settled in behind them.”
soon got into their stride and Rockenfeller in particular set off
like a scalded cat, pulling off an impressive pass round the outside
of one of the GT1 Saleens on the opening lap, and setting some impressive
lap times to open up a gap to the Mosler.
into a good rhythm and was pulling away from the TVR and Embassy
Porsche at around a second per lap. With the cars behind him battling
for position, all Shaun had to worry about was finding a clear route
through the back marker traffic mid-way through his stint.
As the Porsches
pitted first he moved into the lead of the class for a handful of
laps, before he too had to pit, handing over to Jamie for a long
A swift change-over
put Jamie back out again in third place. By now the traffic situation
was at its peak, and with a handful of cars not realising the Mosler
was lapping them, they wanted to race. Both drivers suffered with
slower GT2 cars thinking that they were managing to hold them off
stint passed without incident, Jamie had lost a little time to the
LNT TVR, which had been forced to make an early stop owing to a
suspected puncture. It had now leapfrogged the cars behind Jamie
and was able to bring down a little bit of the gap to the Mosler.
However, Jamie was comfortably clear and had the added bonus of
suddenly becoming P2 on the timing screens!
The number 88
GruppeM car was suffering from a broken water pipe, dropping it
well down the order and proving that even the Porsches have their
problems. Jamie brought the car in to the pits to hand back over
to Shaun with just 34 minutes left on the clock - and a healthy
lead to take to the chequered flag. That signalled victory in G2,
and effectively second in GT2.
great for the team and for Mosler to have finished,” said
Shaun afterwards. “We’ve proved that we’re on
the cutting edge of the development with the car and are closing
the gap to the Porsches all the time. We’re still a small
team with a big heart and we want to improve and do better. We will
have to see what happens over the next few rounds,” he added.
a good race for us,” said Jamie. “To finish first in
G2 and effectively second in GT2 is great. The car ran faultlessly
and the team did a brilliant job for us over the course of the weekend.
We’re very happy to have finally taken the flag, especially
at our home event and in front of our sponsors and guests,”
The team now
gears up for what it hopes will be another good result, in round
four at Imola.