The Balfe Motorsport Mosler MT900R driven by Shaun Balfe and Jamie Derbyshire was fastest in qualifying at Oulton Park today (Saturday 12 July) to claim pole position for round seven of the 2003 British GT Championship. The Eclipse Motorsport TVR T400R of Piers Johnson and Shane Lynch will complete the front row.
The Cheshire weather was at its very best and the hot conditions meant that the teams could not match the pace set in testing yesterday. "Any idea of anyone banging in a 1m 39s lap went out of the window," claimed Balfe, who piloted the red and white Mosler during the session. "We just had to do the best we could - the car has been running very well." Balfe's lap of 1m 40.895s was nearly half-a-second faster than the next best, set by Johnson in the early part of the session. "The car was understeering quite a lot, so we weren't quite as quick as we would have hoped," reckoned Piers. The former Rover Turbo racer believes that he and his team-mate can give the Mosler something to think about. "I think we're more well-matched than some of the other cars, where the second drivers are a second or so off the pace. We'll be looking for Shane to make a good start - he loves a fight. The front row is where we need to be though," he continued.
Third place in qualifying was an excellent result for the Master Motorsport Ultima. The Steve Brady/Aaron Scott-driven car is increasingly becoming a feature at the front of the field and this marks a high-point for the team. Martin Short took the Rollcentre Mosler he shares with Tom Herridge to fourth place. The duo lost testing time yesterday after a brace of ECU problems, with their troubles exacerbated in qualifying by a pin working lose and causing the tracking to change. "Even without that we'd still have been fourth," said Short.
In seventh place, behind the Countdown TVR and Xero Corvette, was the Porsche 996 Turbo of Gruppe M Tech 9 team boss Phil Hindley and Bob Berridge. Hindley was making his first appearance of the season but found that he couldn't get a clear lap in to set a better time.
It was a Tech 9 Porsche to the fore in the GT Cup class with Matt Griffin setting a time that means he and Patrick Pearce will start eighth overall. "I'm not sure what's happening this weekend, I don't seem to be doing any wrong!" grinned Griffin. "It's the best I've driven all season - but even that lap wasn't perfect." Such is the duo's dominance this year they are now carrying an astonishing 65kg of success ballast! Second in class and 12th overall is the Neil Cunningham/Adam Sharpe Morgan with the Hector Lester/Ivor Mairs Ferrari 360 next up.
Two cars required significant work and didn't qualify, but are expected to start at the back of the grid tomorrow. These are the Peninsula TVR of John Hartshorne and Graeme Mundy and the Paul Whight Lotus Elise, run by RML. The Championship Class Porsche 996 of Peter Cook and Franck Pelle, meanwhile, has been converted to GT-specification as a result of handling problems when running in toned-down GTO trim in free practice.
Tomorrow's race is the second 75-minute event of the year and promises to be a genuine endurance test in hot conditions. "We're really looking forward to a good race tomorrow and it will be nice to have a couple of cars between us and the other Mosler at the start," said Balfe. The race is due to get underway at 1435hrs tomorrow.