Shaun Balfe and Jules Gounon took pole positions for the opening contests of the 2022 Intelligent Money British GT Championship at Oulton Park with the French GT ace setting a new qualifying record around the Cheshire circuit.
Shaun Balfe, in the #22 Balfe Motorsport Audi R8 LMS Evo II GT3 he shares with Adam Carroll, will lead the field away from the grid in Race One after having set a 1:34.692 in the opening 10-minute session, .125 seconds quicker than Richard Neary in the #8 Team Abba Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 he shares with son Sam Neary. Completing the top three in class for the opening will be the the #77 Enduro Motorsport McLaren 720S GT3 in which Morgan Tillbrook lapped in 1:34.962.
Shaun Balfe was delighted to have set the quickest time despite a malfunction in the cockpit of his Audi.
“I was pretty much blind (in the car) and that’s testament to how much work goes on in the backroom and having such a great set of guys,” said Shaun Balfe.
“Couldn’t tell you what lap time I’ve done. Couldn’t tell you what gear I was in but it had all been drilled into me for a long 48 hours and I can have a beer tonight because we’re not driving tomorrow so it’s all good!”
In the second session the times started to tumble and it was Jules Gounon who set the timing screens alight with a 1:32.384 in the ##6 RAM Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 he shares with British GT stalwart Ian Loggie. The 2020 Bathurst 12 Hour winner was .415 seconds quicker than Sean Balfe’s teammate Adam Carroll who set a 1:32.799 in the #22 Audi.
Gounon’s teammate Ian Loggie explained how he requested for Gounon to join him for the 2022 British GT Championship.
“My friend knows Jules and knows his father from the past so he put a little bit of leverage on. Jules went to Mercedes and asked them if he could do it. They were delighted for us to have him,” explained Ian Loggie. “We’ve not got him for the whole season but for the majority of it and he’s done a totally amazing job.”
The GT3 qualifying sessions ran without interruption but there was drama for the #91 Century Motorsport BMW M4 GT3 in which Betty Chen sustained sufficient damage that teammate Angus Fender was unable to join the second session. Team manager Nathan Freke is due to collect spare parts from Calais ahead of the Bank Holiday Monday’s race day.
In the GT4 category Richard Williams took qualifying honours for Race One in the #42 Steller Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT4, lapping in 1:42.395, over .6 seconds quicker than the #51 Valluga Racing Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS CS with Benji Hetherington at the wheel.
For Race Two Darren Turner in the #27 Newbridge Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4 will start from pole after putting in a 1:41.957, less than a tenth of a second quicker than Sennan Fielding in the #42 Audi.
With a break in proceedings for Easter Sunday, the lights go out for Race One of the 2022 Intelligent Money British GT Championship at 11:20 on Monday April April 18.