Balfe Motorsport recovered from a nightmare first lap to take a stunning victory in the opening round of the 2022 Intelligent Money British GT Championship, highlighted by Adam Carroll fending off a hard-charging Jules Gounon to ensure the win. 


In GT4, Richard Williams and Sennan Fielding put on a masterclass in the Steller Motorsport Audi R8 LMS to take a comfortable win in the first round of the year at Oulton Park.


Starting on pole position, the race started on a low note for Balfe Motorsport boss Shaun Balfe. First muscled out the way by front-row starter Richard Neary at Old Hall, he was then mugged by Graham Davidson’s Team Rocket RJN McLaren 720S GT3 into the left-hander at Cascades before finally finishing the opening lap in sixth.

As Balfe looked to settle and regroup, the action shifted to the front with Neary holding control in his Team Abba Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3. Behind, Davidson – replacing COVID-suffering Simon Watts this weekend – was right under the rear-wing of Neary whilst keeping half-an-eye on Morgan Tillbrook, who made a bright start in the Enduro Motorsport McLaren.

The tight nature of Oulton Park meant that battle remained static predominantly, with traffic allowing the battle for fourth between James Cottingham, Kevin Tse and Balfe to slightly close in. However, the battle soon went wild thanks to a race-ending crash for Davidson.

Heading up Clay Hill, Neary came across GT4 traffic which was fighting its own battles and not particularly looking in the mirrors. Blocked on his first route through on the left, Neary jinked to the right and clipped the right-front of Davidson – who had made a better launch out of Knickerbrook – which sent the McLaren spinning into the barriers. Damage looked only minor, so will hopefully be out for the second race later on. 

Combine that with the pitstop window opening a lap later, and the order when the Pros came out looked significantly different. Sam Neary took over the Abba machine and initially came out in the lead, but was penalised for both the collision and a pit infringement to push them down the order. That should have handed 2 Seas Motorsport’s Lewis Williamson the lead, but he also got pinged for a pit infringement and had to serve a stop/go as well.

Earlier bad luck was replaced with a stroke of good fortune for Adam Carroll in the Balfe Audi, as he found himself running at the front and on for a hard-earned podium.

That was definitely not what Jules Gounon had in mind. Ian Loggie moved his way up from 10th on the grid to handover the RAM Mercedes to Gounon in a great position, and the Frenchman set about moving as far up as he possibly could.

First, he squeezed between the smallest of gaps between Matt Cowley’s GT4 Mustang and his target – the Fox Motorsport McLaren of Jamie Stanley – to take second, and then sliced down Carroll’s advantage. 

Getting under the rear-wing of Carroll with 15 minutes to go, Gounon found his opportunities to take the lead limited by some excellent work by the Audi driver placing his car absolutely perfectly in all of the key overtaking sites. 

The Frenchman thought he had an opportunity on the penultimate lap, when Carroll was slightly trapped behind the Team BRIT McLaren 570S GT4. Gounon’s momentum put him alongside Carroll going through Lodge, up Deer Leap and down the front-straight into Old Hall. However, Carroll proved too strong and just carried a touch more momentum through that left-hander to ensure he went down The Avenue with a car length in hand. He crossed the line with a 0.455sec advantage. 

Behind those two, Stanley ensured Fox took a podium on its debut with the 720S after a great opening stint by Nick Halstead put them right in the mix – a clean stop confirming that too. 

Fourth went to Phil Keen, but was less than a second behind Stanley in the WPI Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán GT3, Keen possibly cursing his luck that the race couldn’t have continued for an extra lap. 

2 Seas Motorsport’s Cottingham and Lewis Williamson recovered from their penalty to take fifth, while Euan Hankey charged through the field in his stint to cross the line in sixth for 7TSix. 

Despite racing a Bentley that wasn’t meant to be theirs – Mark Sansom had an off in Friday practice which damaged Assetto’s original Bentley beyond what could be repaired at the circuit – Mark Sansom and Will Tregurtha took a solid seventh, and the win in the Silver-Am category. 

A mistake for Tillbrook – missing his pitbox on his first attempt at the mandatory stop – meant he had to do an extra lap before trying again and relegated he and Marcus Clutton down to eighth. 

Barwell Motorsport took ninth, Sandy Mitchell’s charge curtailed by a shove from Chris Froggatt which caused rear bodywork to rub on the rear-left wheel, slowing down the Scot. RAM Racing rounded out the top ten, a great recovery from John Ferguson and Jamie Caroline after the former was nudged into a spin by Alex Malykhin.


Compared to the chaos of GT3, the secondary British GT class proved to be a relatively more simple affair as Richard Williams and Sennan Fielding used the blistering pace of their Steller Motorsport Audi to claim what ended up being a relatively comfortable win – despite a stop/go penalty for a short stop.

It wasn’t always plain sailing mind you, at the start Benji Hetherington made a better getaway in the Valluga Racing Porsche 718 Cayman to leapfrog ahead but was immediately under pressure from Williams. 

Try as he might, Hetherington didn’t have the pace to fend off the Audi, and ceded the place to the #42 just ten minutes into the race. 

Running pretty comfortably in the hands of Sennan Fielding, the pair’s only real threat came when they were found to be six seconds short on their pitstop’s minimum time and had to serve a penalty. It could have been the end for them, if not for Darren Turner – who didn’t have the mandatory 15-second extra time in the pits for being in a Pro-Am entry with Matt Topham – also being pinged for a penalty for being just one-second short. 

That shouldn’t have been too bad, but Turner struggled to getaway from the penalty box and effectively ended his challenge for the win. 

Coming back out of the pits, Sennan told GT REPORT that the only message he got was to just ‘go as fast as you can’ as he quickly recovered the time lost to take a comfortable win. 

In second, was the R Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT4 of Josh Miller and Jamie Day who almost snuck their way into the podium thanks to clean, consistently quick laps – Miller getting the place off Valluga’s Ross Wylie in the closing stages of the race. 

Fourth went to Matt Cowley and Marco Signoretti in the Academy Motorsport Ford Mustang, while Turner and Topham finished fifth and took the Pro-Am honours for Newbridge Motorsport.

The second British GT race of the day takes place at 4.10pm UK time (5.10pm CEST), and it’s live here.


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