Balfe Motorsport Secure Donington Decider Pole

3 Mins read
Credit: Craig Robertson/RacePhotography.net

Shaun Balfe and Rob Bell have claimed the final pole position of the 2019 British GT Championship season for the Balfe Motorsport McLaren team. The four session qualifying ran green throughout and in the second two sessions it was Audi which topped the combined times for GT4. Richard Williams and Sennan Fielding took GT4 honours with a dominant performance in their session for Steller Performance.

GT3: McLaren on Top for British GT Finale.

Shaun Balfe went first in the split qualifying session and immediately hit the pace before later improving to a time 0.216 seconds clear of the field. Bell just had to stay somewhere in the ball park to claim the pole but followed his team mate’s example and instantly shot to top of the list.

Here though the script differs slightly as championship leader Phil Keen posted a lap 0.149 seconds faster. It wasn’t enough to rob the 720s GT3 of the top spot, but the Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO will start tomorrow’s race from the outside of the front row.

RAM Racing took third in the session thanks to Ian Loggie and Callum Macleod. Am qualifying was fairly smooth sailing for the Mercedes-AMG but the Pro session saw the #6 machine rise to notice not only for a late shot to the second row but also for the intervention of the stewards. Macleod attracted their ire, and lost his fastest time, for taking liberties with the limits of the circuit.

The closest championship rivals to the Barwell Lamborghini are Graham Davidson and Jonny Adam in the #47 TF Sport Aston Martin. Fifth for Davidson looked to be matched by second at one point for Adam but the closely fought session eventually saw the AMR Pro driver dropped to sixth in the session and fourth overall.

The third row will be all BMW for the first time in 2019. Angus Fender returns from injury and in his first competitive session back behind the wheel he instantly hit the pace, putting the #9 BMW M6 GT3 run by Century Motorsport second in the 10 minute contest. Jack Mitchell, the full season driver of the car only managed 11th in the second session but that was enough on combined times to take fifth ahead of Dominic Paul and Ben Green in the second M6.

Sam de Haan and Jonny Cocker currently sit third in the championship but start seventh overall while the only other car with a statistical chance of taking the title is the Optimum Motorsport Aston Martin, though they struggled all day and will start in 12th overall.

GT4: Steller Performance Puts Audi on GT4 Pole.

Credit: Craig Robertson/RacePhotography.net

Richard Williams and Sennan Fielding will be celebrating tonight after their most successful qualifying session since joining the championship at Snetterton. The Audi R8 LMS GT4 took the top spot in Am qualifying thanks to Williams who struck early, on his first flying lap, with a time 0.337 seconds faster than anyone else could manage. Fielding took over at the mid point but could only manage fifth in the Pro session where eight cars were covered by a single second.

For the second place on the grid it was a similar story, the ‘Am’ side of the pairing doing the heavy lifting, where Ash Hand took full advantage of the first lap slipstream from his team mate Patrick Kibble aboard the #95 Aston Martin. Having laid down the marker he handed over to Tom Canning but the busy pit lane made it impossible for the TF Sport crew to repeat the Monza-esque slipstreaming trick. Canning’s fifth place was enough to secure second for the championship leading V8 Vantage GT4.

It will provide little relief in the opening laps of the race however as the championship rivals, 12.5 points behind in the standings are only one place behind on the grid. Dean MacDonald‘s top time in ‘Pro’ qualifying wasn’t enough to counter the 0.771 second deficit handed him by Callum Pointon from the ‘Am’ qualifying. The #95 TF Sport Aston Martin lines up behind its team mate and will be looking to spoil the HHC Motorsport McLaren’s chances into Redgate on lap 1.

The #15 Multimatic Motorsport Mustang of Scott Maxwell and Seb Priaulx starts fifth, putting the championship top three all in the top five, but in championship order which will make the job of the #15 much harder come race day.

The race gets underway tomorrow at 13:15 with live coverage from TheCheckeredFlag.co.uk. You can also watch the race live at BritishGT.com/live.

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I am a photographer, writer and podcast presenter, specialising in GT and Endurance racing. I've been with The Checkered Flag since 2014, covering a wide range of racing series from Formula Ford to Formula 1, with British GT the main focus of my work. You can hear me monthly on the British GT Fans Show which can be found in our Recommended Listening section.
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