> Adam Carroll and Shaun Balfe reprise successful GT Open partnership
Audi’s new-for-2022 R8 LMS Evo II will contest this year’s Intelligent Money British GT Championship in the hands of Shaun Balfe and Adam Carroll.
The same Pro-Am duo finished sixth in class during their part-season GT Open campaign last term with Balfe Motorsport’s previous generation R8. The new model, which as well as packing significant performance enhancements also features a new Autoglym livery, was revealed outside Lincoln Cathedral near to the team’s base in Grantham.
The entry signals a change of direction for the team’s domestic GT3 programme, which has featured McLaren’s 650S and 720S in recent years. Indeed, Balfe oversaw Stewart and Lewis Proctor’s GT3 Silver-Am title and claimed a GT4 victory with the 570S last season.
It also marks both drivers’ full-time British GT returns, as well as their first together.
Balfe finished just five points shy of winning 2019’s GT3 crown alongside Rob Bell with whom he also made his last British GT outing a year later at Silverstone. Incredibly, 2022 will mark 24 years since Shaun’s and the team’s British GT debuts, which came at the British Grand Prix support race in 1999.
“I’m very happy to be back racing on home soil in the British GT Championship,” he said. “We’re on a new journey with the Audi R8 LMS which we raced in the GT Open series last year, so I’m looking forward to showing what we can do this year.
“Adam and I get on well and make a really good partnership. We really gelled last year and I’m sure we can take that forward. British GT is a true Pro-Am series so we should be competitive.
“The longer endurance races are really appealing, and it will allow us to stretch our legs. It should be really good fun behind the wheel. Hopefully the gates will be open all year to spectators, friends and family to support and we can put on a good show.”
Carroll is also a domestic GT3 race winner thanks to his starring super sub role with Barwell at Oulton Park in 2016 when he and Liam Griffin scored the Lamborghini Huracan’s first-ever British GT victory. The Northern Irishman made his final appearance one round later at Silverstone with FF Corse – a team he raced with sporadically in 2014-15.
His wider motorsport CV is also one of the strongest on this year’s grid. The former BAR F1 test driver, GP2 race winner and British F3 runner-up was A1GP champion with Team Ireland in 2008/09 and will now combine his British GT programme with reserve driver duties for NIO in Formula E.
“I’ve never had a full season in the British GT Championship, just a handful of races in some years, and it will be only my second full year racing in the UK since 2004 when I was runner-up in the British Formula 3 Championship,” he said. “Last season it was brilliant to be back with Shaun and in a GT3 car. I think we make a very strong partnership and I really enjoy driving the Audi and working with everyone in the team.
“It's going to be great to be back on the British circuits. Some of them are very exciting in a GT3 car, which I like, and you don't have to worry about track limits, because there's just grass and a wall at most of the circuits, which I like as well! We're going to give everything we've got and I'm looking forward to getting stuck into the full season.
“British GT is tough. If you look at who has been driving in the championship over the last few years, there have been plenty of factory drivers and they haven't been short on talent. I always expect it to be hard, and one thing I learned a long time ago is you never underestimate competition. We'll do our best and hopefully we can win a few races and score podiums along the way, and we'll be in the hunt for the championship.”
Audi becomes British GT3’s sixth confirmed manufacturer this season. Teams entering Bentley, Lamborghini, McLaren, Mercedes-AMG and Porsche have already been announced.
Oulton Park stages the opening round of 2022’s Intelligent Money British GT campaign on April 16 & 18.