Intelligent Money British GT Championship Latest

Barwell Lamborghini on pole at sizzling Donington

The Barwell Motorsport duo of Shaun Balfe and Sandy Mitchell took pole position for round four of the 2023 Intelligent Money British GT Championship at Donington Park after Shaun Balfe set the quickest time in the first ten-minute session with a 1:24.880 and Mitchell went second quickest in the second session. The combined time of the #78 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo was 2:48.618, nearly four-tenths of a second quicker than the #4 2 Seas Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3 of James Cottingham and Jonny Adam.

Qualifying third on the in the GT3 class was the #97 Beechdean AMR Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3 of Andrew Howard and Ross Gunn.

The first qualifying session got underway with track temperatures continuing to climb and the paddock discussing a statement put out by Team Abba Racing over the lunch period in which the team was highly critical of a 15 kgs BoP adjustment applied to its Gen 1 Mercedes-AMG GT3 ahead of the race weekend.

James Cottingham in the #4 2 Seas Motorsport Mercedes set the early pace with 1:25.420 before Shaun Balfe in the #78 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo lapped .088 seconds quicker.

Times continued to drop on the resurfaced Donington Park GP circuit as Andrew Howard in the #97 Beechdean AMR Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3 lapped in 1:25.179. Shaun Balfe was continuing to push, however, and went below 1:25 with a 1:24.880 to set provisional pole.

The second session saw lap times tumbling in comparison with the morning practice sessions with six drivers setting times below 1:24. Raffaele Marciello was pushing hard in the #15 RAM Racing Mercedes, resulting in the Swiss-Italian driver running wide and collecting grass on the front of his car. The off-track excursion did nothing to deter Marciello from continuing to work to lower his times with the result that the #15 Mercedes set the quickest time in the second session with a 1:23.689. However it was Sandy Mitchell’s 1:23.738 that was sufficient to secure pole position for the Black Bull Whisky-backed Lamborghini Huracan.

Barwell Motorsport team principal Mark Lemmer was delighted to see the #78 car on pole.

“It’s a difficult place to overtake so qualy’s really important at Donington so we’re very happy[AL1]  with that,” said Mark Lemmer.

“It’s a new car and at Oulton Park we weren’t on the pace for numerous reasons but we have working so hard behind the scenes and with Lamborghini and the car has been getting better and better in every area every time we’ve been out. We’ve had a brake upgrade this weekend and, on a circuit where braking is critical, hats off to Lamborghini for getting us some decent brakes for the first time this year with a brake package that really works.”

Pole position in the GT4 category went to the #36 DTO Motorsport McLaren Artura GT4 driven by Seb Hopkins and, for the second session, Josh Miller. Hopkins was quickest of the GT4 drivers in the first qualifying session, lapping in 1:32.524, and teammate Millar almost matched the time with a 1:32.623.

Qualifying second in the GT4 class and just 1/1000th of a second behind the #36 car was the #56 Raceway Motorsport Ginetta G56 of Freddie Tomlinson and Stuart Middleton followed by #90 optimum Motorsport McLaren Artura GT4 of Jack Brown and Charles Clark.

DTO Motorsport team principal Eddie Hall was pleased that his team’s hard work is now paying off.

“That was the closest qualifying ever in British GT,” said Eddie Hall. “We’ve been chipping away at this all season and now is our time to shine. We’ll see how we get on tomorrow but this puts us in a great position.”

“There’s great competition in the championship but we’ve put ourselves in a good position so we’ll see how we get on tomorrow.”