The Intelligent Money British GT Championship’s longest-serving driver, Shaun Balfe, has joined the series’ most successful team, Barwell Motorsport, in a bid to finally land his first drivers’ title.
The 50-year-old has come close to winning the crown on two occasions since making his debut all the way back in 1999 and is now linking up with Lamborghini Squadra Corse factory driver, as well as 2020 champion, Sandy Mitchell in what, on paper, appears to be one of this year’s strongest combinations.
Balfe has traditionally driven for his own family-run team and scored his most recent British GT victory with them at the opening round of last season’s campaign while driving an Audi. Other successes include winning the Spanish GT Championship, a GT Open class title and finishing second and third overall in British GT.
Indeed, he was narrowly beaten to the crown in 2003 while driving a Mosler and also finished just five points shy of the GT3 championship four years ago.
Now, a quarter of a century after his debut, Balfe will have the support of multiple teams’ and drivers’ champions Barwell, the squad’s long-time partner Black Bull, last year’s runner-up Mitchell, and the new Huracan GT3 EVO2.
“Having competed against Barwell for several years, I’d always seen them as the ones to watch, the team that consistently delivers results,” he said. “So being part of historically what’s been a ultra-successful team, a team that’s stayed loyal to the exciting Lamborghini brand, and adding Sandy, a team-mate that despite his relatively still growing experience has already won a British GT Championship and consistently competes with top level Pro drivers, then I’m clearly very excited and motivated to help keep Barwell in the top tier of BGT.”
Mitchell, who is still only 22 despite making his British GT bow in 2016, helped Adam Balon finish second and third over the past two seasons after winning the title with Rob Collard in 2020. Now he’s hoping to follow in the footsteps of fellow Scot Jonny Adam and Andrew Howard by becoming a two-time GT3 champion.
“I’m delighted that this season I’ll be partnered by the very experienced Shaun Balfe in the new Huracan EVO2,” he said. “Shaun has raced in numerous series in the UK, Europe and around the world, and though this will be the first season we’’ll have shared a car together, we both get on really well. I’m really looking forward to working with him.
“I know together we will form a very strong, quick pairing and we head into the season with one aim in mind; that’s to lift the title.
“We know the grid for the 2023 British GT is as strong as it’s ever been, and it’s great to again be part of a two-car Barwell assault on the championship. The competition is going to be intense. Shaun and I will need to be on it right from the start of the campaign.”
Barwell team principal Mark Lemmer added: “I’ve known Shaun for as long as I can remember and he’s quick, professional and focused. Plus he has motorsport DNA running through his veins which makes him a perfect fit for Barwell. Across the team we now have four great drivers and an exciting new car so we really can’t wait to get stuck in!”
Balfe’s arrival completes Barwell’s two-car British GT3 programme, which also features the previously announced pairing of Mark Sansom and Will Tregurtha.
Barwell’s new Lamborghinis will make their public debut during British GT’s media day at Donington on March 14 before Oulton Park opens this year’s campaign less than a month later (April 8 & 10).