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Flying the flag in the UK and beyond
The pressure which comes from being a fully supported customer of Lamborghini Squadra Corse is not to be underestimated, but for UK team Barwell Motorsport, it is a duty which has been carried out with aplomb over the years. Representing the company in one of the largest markets for Lamborghini in the world, it’s taken the team to the top of the GT world.
Originating in the 1960s, the Barwell name came about via a small tuning company in Surrey called Barwell Automotive. It manufactured tuning parts for BMC racing engines and was subsequently taken over by Richard Lemmer, father of current team principal Mark.
The team initially competed in whatever Mark happened to race in at the time, and it was a while before they entered the Lamborghini frame. The partnership, as it happened, spawned out of necessity rather than anything else, but has since become a winning entity at home and abroad.
“We’d been involved in GT racing for long enough to know that being aligned with an iconic brand is critical,” says Lemmer. “Lamborghini is one of the most iconic supercars brands in the world, they were just starting out in customer racing, and we had just reached the end of a partnership with another brand, so it was the perfect timing for both parties to team up together really”.
“As a team, we set out with a very clear objective in that we wanted to win the British GT Championship and we wanted to be a successful Pro-Am operation in Europe. For Lamborghini, the UK is one of their biggest markets, so it made sense for them to want to team up with someone like us as well.”
It’s been eight years since Barwell Motorsport and Lamborghini Squadra Corse joined forces and a lot of success has been achieved during this period, both at home in the UK and further afield in GT World Challenge.
Success rarely comes from one entity on its own. A partnership is just that, but as Lemmer and Barwell Motorsport’s commercial director Chris Needell explain, when Squadra Corse came calling, Barwell brought the added value of already having significant experience in GT3 racing.
“We had quite a lot of experience in GT3 at the time, and Lamborghini was relatively new to it all,” Lemmer says. “But we worked step by step together, very closely to understand the Balance of Performance and the reliability, and what helped as well was that I really hit it off with the engineering team, with Leonardo [Galente] and got on really well with Maurizio [Reggiani] at Silverstone”.
“There was a lot of respect early on and I think that’s what gives you longevity, because you can talk to each other openly and you listen. That’s not always the case in motorsport.”
Needell adds: “Obviously, Squadra Corse – despite being factory supported by Lamborghini – was quite a small operation, we quite liked the personal direct relationship with them and vice versa.”
There’s much similarity, in that case, between the two entities, with Barwell Motorsport operating two championships with one relatively skeleton staff.
That’s not to say it doesn’t work. In fact, the opposite is true. Doing more with less has always been Barwell’s ethos and it’s a structure that has rewarded them handsomely over the years with Lamborghini by its side.
“We’re quite a small team in terms of numbers which means we have to be very efficient and lean in how we go about our business,” Needell explains. “Our income comes from our sponsors and our gentleman drivers, as a Pro-Am team”.
“The team spirit is the most important attribute of the team, outside of results,” Lemmer adds. “We value that just as highly as the engineering of our cars. The majority of our budget goes into winning races and championships and engineering the cars to the best we can. We don’t have a massive hospitality unit at races, because we don’t need to. We put more emphasis on testing and performance.”
Performance, this year, is the key given that competition in Britain and Europe is perhaps the highest it has ever been. A record-breaking 55-car entry in the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup – which includes an equally record-breaking 72-car entry for the Spa 24 Hours – plus an equally strong international presence in British GT places even more value on race victories.
“Before the opening British round at Oulton, we did quite a bit of testing with the new Huracán EVO2 GT3 and we’ve adapted well,” Needell says. “There’s still a bit of fine-tuning to be done to optimise it but if we can fight for victories in British this and do well in Europe, then we’ll be satisfied. It’s really competitive this year.”
Barwell Motorsport certainly has the pedigree to achieve the best results, having taken the British GT title double in back-to-back years (with Sandy Mitchell and Rob Collard in 2020 and Dennis Lind and Leo Machitski in 2021) along with multiple Teams’ crowns as well.
The British squad also holds the unique title of delivering Lamborghini’s first-ever outright 24-hour race win too, achieved in 2019 in the Creventic 24H Series at Barcelona following a sensational final couple of hours.
It is, therefore, perhaps only apt that Barwell Motorsport achieved another first during the opening weekend of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup season at Monza in April. With victory in the Pro-Am class, thanks to a late race overtake from Dennis Lind, it delivered the first race win for the new Huracán GT3 EVO2 worldwide.
That success was followed by a superb drive from Shaun Balfe and Sandy Mitchell in the second round of the British championship – after a difficult opening round at Oulton - finishing a close second place in the Silverstone 500, an event the team has won twice in the last three seasons.
What the team might be able to achieve this year is unknown as yet, but one thing is certain: the winning ethos which Barwell and Lamborghini share is here to stay.