Balfe Motorsport will run in both classes of the 2018 British GT Championship after announcing they will be running a McLaren 650S GT3 and McLaren 570S GT4 in the upcoming season.
Team owner Shaun Balfe will race alongside McLaren factory driver Rob Bell in the GT3 class while the team run the PMW Expo Racing GT4 entry with 2016 GT4 champions Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson at the wheel.
“We’ve had a couple of great seasons in Europe, winning the Pro/Am title and finishing second overall, but now it’s time for a new challenge and British GT most definitely provides that,” said Balfe.
“Yes, Rob and I have been racing the 650S for the last year-and-a-half and we enjoy a great Pro/Am relationship, but there’s a lot of unknowns this season and we expect to start on the back foot.
“We’ve never raced on the Pirelli tyres and the circuit temperatures will be very different to what we’re used to in Europe. Plus British GT’s race formats, with one, two and three-hour durations, add variety and place more emphasis on the team as a whole.
“Then there’s the competition: the Ams are so competitive and know the championship inside out, while this year’s GT3 Pro driver roster is incredible. The established teams will have the upper hand at Oulton so we’re just aiming for a clean opening weekend before building on what we’ve learnt from Rockingham onwards.”
Johnson and Robinson have never finished the GT4 championship outside of the top two positions since making their debut in 2015, this is something the pair are hoping to continue this season.
“Dave Eden, Global Motorsport Commercial and Brand Manager at McLaren, introduced Mike and I to Balfe Motorsport in November last year, and when we looked at the team’s long list of successes, we were of course impressed,” said Johnson.
“Thankfully that positive impression continued when we visited Shaun [Balfe] and his team’s first-rate facilities near Grantham. And having factory driver Rob Bell as part of the team is of course invaluable too. We came away from that first meeting understanding why McLaren had pushed us towards Balfe. Mike and I wanted to sign on the spot!
“We’re very grateful to Optimum Motorsport for their efforts over the last three years, but in joining Balfe, we’re joining a team with more experience working with McLaren and that has ambition to not only compete for both British GT class titles, but also at legendary races such as Le Mans. Mike and I share those same goals.”
Renowned Chief Engineer Geoff Kingston will be joining the team for 2018 and Johnson believes this will play an integral part of the championship challenge in 2018.
“We’re delighted Geoff will still be part of our team. Mike and I are convinced that we can mount a serious challenge for our second overall British GT4 title in 2018 with the combination of Geoff’s engineering ability and Balfe’s preparation and management skills. We’re in this again to beat the kids and to prove that we remain the best driver pairing on the grid.”