Barwell’s Sandy Mitchell and Adam Balon ensure third successive victory in three-hour event
Barwell Motorsport’s Sandy Mitchell and Adam Balon delivered Lamborghini Squadra Corse’s first victory of the British GT Championship season, with a measured drive under heavy pressure in the three-hour Silverstone 500. Factory Driver Mitchell had helped the #72 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO take pole position on Saturday before coming out on top by just under a second at the end of the opening endurance event of the year.
After two sprint races to kick off the season at Oulton Park, the field moved to the Home of British Motorsport for the first long-distance meeting of the year. Mitchell and Balon began the weekend strongly in Saturday’s free practice sessions, setting seventh quickest time in the morning before topping the times in the afternoon FP2.
The pair saved their best for qualifying, with the #72 car emerging with the best combined time between the two sessions, to take pole position courtesy of Mitchell’s time of 1:56.765. Mitchell and Balon were joined on the front row of the grid by the Redline Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO of Alex Malykhin and James Dorlin.
Balon started the race in the #72 and got a decent getaway off the rolling start, with Malykhin fighting off the attentions of the Mercedes behind to maintain his second place as the field negotiated the opening lap. Before long, Balon fell into the clutches of Malykhin, who had better pace in the early stages, with the latter eventually seizing the lead after five minutes despite slight contact between the two cars at Club Corner.
The leading pair of Lamborghinis had opened a healthy margin over the chasing pack, with Balon hanging onto the pace of Malykhin. Balon then moved back into the lead of the race as Malykhin made his first pit-stop after the half hour marker. Mitchell took over the reins of the #72 Huracán after Balon – who become embroiled in a lively battle with the McLaren of Morgan Tillbrook – made his first stop 15 minutes later.
With Mitchell at the wheel, the Barwell Motorsport car established a lead of just under five seconds, which extended by another second by the time Balon got back behind the wheel for his second stint. Mitchell was back in for the final 45 minutes, in which he maintained a diminishing advantage over another McLaren – with Marvin Kirchhöfer in the car.
Mitchell controlled the lead, despite it coming down to as little as two-tenths of a second in the closing stages, to take a deserved victory at the finish, ensuring Lamborghini’s third successive win in the Silverstone endurance event.
Race winner Adam Balon (#72 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO) said: “I got a great start and for some reason, everyone behind just sort of disappeared and there were just two of us out in front. We did some really good lap-times, the aim was to build a big enough gap before the pit-stop and hand over the car to Sandy in a good condition.”
Team-mate and Lamborghini Factory Driver Sandy Mitchell (#72 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO) added: “The McLarens were super quick, they didn’t have as good a day in qualifying yesterday but they really started to close in on us in the middle of the race. Then, it was just a battle to see who came out first from the pits and I had three or four laps on the new tyres just at the last pit-stop and that made all the difference to just get ahead. Really happy with the victory and the Silverstone 500 has been really good to us in the last two or three years. It’s a great race to win and we’re really proud.”