Imperious Mitchell dominates Donington 23 | 10 | 2023

    FORMER CHAMP, SCOT SANDY MITCHELL, his team-mate Shaun Balfe and their Barwell Motorsport team combined to deliver an imperious performance to win the final race of the Intelligent Money British GT Championship at Donington Park, writes Jim McGill. (Related: Mitchell targets British GT finale win)

    Mitchell, the 23-year-old from Forfar, and sharing the No 78 Barwell-prepared Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo2 with Balfe, was the quickest driver over the weekend.

    Not content with posting the four fastest laps in his qualifying stint, the Lamborghini factory driver also recorded the quickest lap in the race, clocking 1min 25.546secs round the 2.48-mile Leicestershire circuit.

    But Mitchell’s performance, fastest Pro driver in both qualifying and the race, doesn’t tell the whole story of the two-hour finale which included two Safety Car periods and a Stop&Go penalty for the #78 Lamborghini. (Related: Mitchell bags first British GT win of the season)

    “It was a crazy race,” the Scot, personally backed by Huntly-based Black Bull Scotch Whisky, Tunnocks, Lamborghini Edinburgh, Upper Dysart and Alan Davie Transport, smiled afterwards.

    “We had a lot stacked against us. We had a difficult qualifying, then we got put back to P11 on the grid because of an infringement in qualifying.


    “Even the first stint didn’t really go our way. Shaun had a little bit of contact with some other cars which put us back a couple of places, then he had to serve a stop-and-go penalty as well.”

    The result of that was when the pitstop window opened, Balfe was back in 14th place. But shrewd strategy by the Barwell team ensured that when Mitchell rejoined the race he would be significantly further up the field. (Related: Mitchell denied third Silverstone 500 win by 1.3s)

    “Shaun drove really well to hang in there and keep the car in one piece,” Mitchell, the 2020 British GT champ, continued, “and when he handed the car over to me it was in perfect condition; not a scratch on it. That was the main thing.


    “The cars ahead of us all pitted at the same time, but because it was under a Safety Car period everyone was really bunched up. That made the pitlane super-congested.

    “We delayed our pitstop a couple of laps, which meant the pitlane was clear. We had a completely clean stop which allowed us to gain some time. Then the Safety Car came back out just at the right time for us and we were able to jump loads of positions.”

    The reality was, when Mitchell rejoined he found himself in third place. Within a couple of laps, including setting the fastest lap of the race for the first time, he was in the lead. With a clear track in front of him, he went even quicker.


    “I made a a great move on the exit of the first corner and that allowed me to move into P1,” the Scot explained. “After that we opened up a little bit of a gap and then it was just about maintaining that as long as possible to close off the win.”

    Such was the dominance of the #78 Lamborghini that Mitchell took the chequered flag nine-seconds ahead of the second-placed car.

    The victory, the duo’s second of the year following their win at Snetterton in June, meant they finished the third best Pro-Am driver pairing in this year’s championship.

    “It’s a fantastic way to finish the season with another win,” Mitchell said. “This is our first full season with the Huracan Evo2 and everyone in the team has worked really hard to develop it; we’ve got quicker and quicker as the season has progressed.

    “I’ve also got to congratulate our sister Black Bull-backed car which, in the hands of Mark Sansom and Will Tregurtha, won the Silver-Am race to seal their championship. It’s been a great day for the team.”

    Related: Mitchell named Lamborghini factory driver

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    Jim McGill

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