Lotus GT Drivers – In Spain
Q. Where do you go to find four former Lotus Esprit-racing British GT drivers?

A. Jarama.

The Spanish Paddock was full of recent talent from the British GT Championship last weekend.

dailysportscar.comShaun Balfe and current team-mate Nigel Taylor were at the venue for rounds three and four of the Spanish GT Championship, in the Balfe Motorsport Mosler – the pair taking second place in race two of the weekend.

However, close inspection of the SEAT Cupra entry list showed two other former Esprit drivers. Matt Johnson and Robert Ross (right) have been regulars in the SEAT Championship since last season, and are showing the local drivers exactly how good they are too.

Johnson picked up a third place in the opening race of the weekend, with team-mate Ross following him across the line, before taking victory in the second race. What should have been a one-two for the pair ended after Ross suffered from handling problems while leading, and had to settle for another fourth place.

“The racing here is so competitive,” said a smiling Johnson. “I qualified third for the first race and Rob was only half a second away from me and was down in 12th! He was gutted he was that far back, but that’s how tight it is at the front here. Robert Huff – last year’s UK Seat Cupra Champion and a BTCC factory SEAT driver this season – came to the final round last season and we wiped the floor with him. It’s just like another league,” he added.

“I saw that Shaun and Nigel were down on the entry (for Jarama) before we came over so I was going to wander down the pit-lane and see how they were getting on. We’ll be at all the other rounds together too, so it’s good to see familiar faces when you’re racing in another country.”

Johnson and Ross also gave the Balfe / Taylor pair some valuable insights on racing lines around the tricky Spanish venue, after competing at all of the current circuits last season.

There might be another chance for fans to see Johnson’s GTO spec Lotus Esprit in action yet too.

“We’ve still got it!” grinned Johnson. “It hasn’t turned a wheel since we finished doing GTs. It would probably make a really good Cup Class car now: to be honest, it never really had the power to match the really quick GTO boys. But we showed them the sort of handling we had at places like Oulton and Croft. We might give it an airing in the Britcars at some point too. We think it would be good for those races.

“Someone might be interested in it and would be able to do some more development work on it, there is definitely more speed in that car.”
Adam Proctor

 

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