Donington Park delight as Balfe Motorsport clinches GT Cup silverware
Balfe Motorsport has clinched its first GT Cup silverware of the season, following a successful outing at Donington Park.
The Fulbeck-based motorsport team enjoyed a strong start to its McLaren Customer racing season during the opening four rounds of the GT Cup Championship.
Stewart and Lewis Proctor teamed up together in the #36 McLaren 720S GT3, while Mike Price and Callum MacLeod paired up in the #90 McLaren 570S GT4.
Both sides of the garage enjoyed their fair share of success, with the team leaving the Leicestershire circuit satisfied with Saturday’s double podium position, plus the gains made over the race weekend in readiness for the season ahead.
With a large 37-car grid, the opening round of the championship saw Stewart coolly claim fifth position in the Saturday Sprint event.
The subsequent Pitstop race brought a strong opening stint, vaulting him from seventh on the grid to fourth position.
As the safety car emerged, he pitted and handed over to Lewis in second, who held his position.
Price finished in fifth in the Sprint event, and, together with MacLeod, put in an impressive debut performance in the distinctive GT4 to finish in third position.
Rounds three and four took place the following day and, unfortunately for Stewart, a near-certain fourth place was denied by a left rear puncture two laps from home.
Price had made changes to the GT4s setup, running stiffer springs in the race, but on this occasion was unable to make such large gains and had to be content with ninth.
With 15- and ten-seconds success time penalties for the Proctors and Price / MacLeod, Sunday’s Pitstop race proved to be a challenge. Despite this, the former managed a fifth-placed finish, while the latter two managed 20th to cap off the weekend.
Lewis said: “There has been lots to learn, getting used to set up as well as the format of this new championship, especially dealing with the large grid and the inevitable traffic generated in this type of multi-category series.
“For me, it was good to blow the cobwebs off and to get back into the race weekend rhythm.
“As the pro-driver, my running was relatively limited and this is something I need to get used to in this series as I don’t get a lot of track time, so it’s a case of maximising my learnings every time I’m on track.
“We can take a lot away from this event.”
MacLeod said: “For me, it was a fantastic weekend as Mike had to experience many, many scenarios that he is going to face in his future GT career — and obviously getting a podium was special in making it a nice start in GT Cup.”
Team-mate Price echoed those comments and highlighted the car’s uniqueness.
He said: “We’ve learned a lot about the car and I have certainly learned some handling characteristics of the McLaren.”
Balfe Motorsport will now prepare for the next round of the championship at the prestigious Brands Hatch circuit, starting on May 1.