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British GT Championship Notebook

Race Performance Mustang line-up complete, Balfe on McLaren Title hopes, Optimum shake down new Aston GT3

RACE Performance GT4 Mustang Line-up Complete

Aron Taylor-Smith has completed RACE Performance’s 2019 British GT4 Championship driver line-up.

The Irishman joins British Touring Car Championship convert Sam Smelt aboard the team’s Ford Mustang GT4, which was originally confirmed in early January.

Taylor-Smith also made his name in BTCC between 2011 and 2017 before switching to the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup last season. This year will be his first in British GT and GT4 machinery.

Team Principal Ryan Connolly: “We needed the right fit for the team, the car and Sam, and with Aron, we have exceeded our expectations,” he said. “His professionalism, ability to deliver and knowledge of both the UK circuits and endurance racing makes him an ideal fit for our championship aspirations.

“Aron and Sam’s BTCC experience ensures their ability in close-quarter racing and race craft are things we don’t need to worry about, so as a team we can simply focus on the results I am sure we will collectively deliver.”

Aron Taylor-Smith: “British GT is a championship that I was eager to be a part of as it continues to go from strength to strength,” he said. “Having won in both the BTCC and Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup it is the perfect blend for me; I get to capitalise on my track knowledge from my time in the BTCC but also benefit from last season’s experience in Blancpain GT.

“For me, it was as much about finding the right seat as it was the right team-mate. Sam is very fast and really connects with the car, so between us, I am certain that we can extract the most from the Mustang and challenge for the championship.

“Having spent two days of testing with RACE Performance last week it was clear that Ryan has brought together an extremely talented group of people and what I like most is their hunger and drive to win. Being honest, I can’t remember the last time that I was this excited for a season to start as I see great potential to mount a championship fight.”

Balfe Shooting For The Title With McLaren

Shaun Balfe has given some thoughts on the 2019 programme for the McLaren 720SGT3 in the British GT Championship.

“I was the first customer in the world to try it too I believe. They wanted feedback from more of an amateur, as the works drivers Rob Bell, Ben Barnicoat and Joe Osborne had done the initial testing,” he explained.

Bell has been confirmed as the second driver for the Balfe Motorsport team again, having shared the teams 650S to the Pro-Am title in the European GT Open in 2017 (above) and rejoined the British GT scene last season in the same car.

How does Shaun feel about the car?

“For me, it has great track presence and it’s a significant step up from the 650S, which gave us our previous success.”

“I was disappointed with last season, but don’t feel we have anything to prove in the UK after our success in Europe. I am as relaxed as I can be, anxious for results, but not overcomplicating things. Last year was a bit of a transition year, but for this season I want the title.”

The team hope to give the car its first public appearance at the British GT Media at Donington Park, before testing towards the end of March, in preparation for the opening rounds of the Championship at Oulton Park on Easter Monday.

Optimum Shake Down New GT3 Aston Martin

Next week will see the announcement of Optimum Motorsport’s 2018 programme and ahead of that the team has been shaking down their brand new Aston Martin Vantage GT3.