In a thrilling turn of events, Lamborghini’s #78 Huracán GT3 EVO2, driven by Barwell Motorsport’s Sandy Mitchell and Shaun Balfe, stormed to victory at Donington Park in the British GT Championship season.
This remarkable feat saw them rise from the 11th position on the starting grid, delivering an exciting performance that left motorsport enthusiasts in awe.
The Well-Timed Safety Car Intervention
Mitchell and Balfe’s Lamborghini journey to victory began when a well-timed Safety Car intervention in the final hour allowed them to execute a strategic pit stop, effectively granting them a free pit stop. This tactical move propelled them from their initial 11th place to second. However, the real magic unfolded when Lamborghini Factory Driver Mitchell executed a brilliant overtake to seize the lead, setting the stage for an exhilarating conclusion.
With the lead now in their grasp, Mitchell displayed remarkable skill and precision in the final 40 minutes of the race. He managed to keep it clean and secured the win, marking their second victory of the season. This triumph was a perfect way to conclude their successful partnership in their debut campaign together.
Victories Beyond Donington Park
While Lamborghini’s #78 car was clinching victory at Donington Park, other Lamborghini teams found success in different parts of the world. Hiroshi Hamaguchi and Vincent Abril, piloting the #63 Iron Lynx Huracán, claimed their first victory in the Le Mans Cup season finale in a wet Portimão, Portugal. In addition, the ADAC GT Masters season came to a close, with Grasser Racing Team’s Marco Mapelli and Benjamin Hites securing victory in the penultimate race, despite missing out on the championship title due to an unfortunate incident in the second race.
Leading up to the race, the #78 Lamborghini Huracán faced challenging circumstances during qualifying. Unpredictable British weather played a pivotal role, with Balfe and Mitchell having to deal with adverse conditions. Balfe’s early switch to wet weather tyres, while strategic, only earned them an eighth-place start, as other competitors improved their positions. Fortunately, Mitchell’s stellar performance in the second session, securing the fastest overall time, provided a glimmer of hope. Yet, a qualifying infringement meant they had to start from the 11th position in the GT3 field.
A Dramatic Start and Steady Ascent
At the beginning of the race, the #78 car faced early setbacks, dropping several positions due to a drive-through penalty. Balfe was behind the wheel at the time. However, the fortune soon favoured them with a second safety car period coinciding perfectly with their pit stop. By the time Mitchell took over from Balfe, they had advanced to the third position, closely trailing the McLaren driven by Marcus Clutton.
Their situation improved further as the leading Mercedes, driven by Jules Gounon, went off-track at the final corner. This allowed Mitchell to execute a spectacular overtaking manoeuvre on Clutton at the Old Hairpin, securing the second position with 40 minutes remaining. From that point onwards, Mitchell extended his lead and cruised to victory, finishing with a comfortable margin of just over nine seconds.
Sandy Mitchell of #78 Barwell Motorsport expressed, “I guess the safety car was out, and when I was about to get in the car, everyone was going slowly behind the safety car, which meant that we were able to jump ahead of them. Because the pit-lane was so busy, we decided to stay out a few more laps to save a bit more time and keep Shaun out in a bit cleaner air, so that made all the difference.”
Mapelli and Hites Keep GT Masters Title Fight Alive
Grasser Racing Team’s Marco Mapelli and Benjamin Hites played a pivotal role in keeping the ADAC GT Masters title race alive until the final race of the season. Their superb victory from pole position at Hockenheim showcased their exceptional driving skills. Despite an intense battle during the mandatory driver-change stop, where Mapelli had to fend off a determined Mercedes, their victory reignited the championship competition.
However, their hopes of overcoming a 10-point deficit in the championship standings were dashed at the start of the second race when their #63 machine was involved in a first-lap crash.
The final round of the Le Mans Cup season in Portimão witnessed Lamborghini’s success as Hiroshi Hamaguchi and Vincent Abril, driving the #63 Iron Lynx Huracán, secured their first win of the 2023 season. Under challenging conditions with heavy rain, they began from the front row and demonstrated composure throughout the two-hour race, winning by just over 12 seconds. With Abril behind the wheel, they pulled away following a lengthy safety car intervention and subsequent red flag due to worsening conditions.
Lamborghini’s extraordinary victory at Donington Park stands as a testament to the indomitable spirit of motorsport and the unwavering determination of the #78 Huracán GT3 EVO2 team. Their remarkable rise from the 11th grid position to seize the championship crown showcases the power of strategic brilliance and exceptional driving skill.
As the roar of engines and the cheers of fans fade into memory, this victory will forever be etched in the annals of British GT Championship history, symbolizing the resilience and triumph that define the heart of competitive racing. Lamborghini has once again proven that they are a force to be reckoned with on the track, leaving an indelible mark on the motorsport world.