Lamborghini factory driver Sandy Mitchell stormed to within 1.3-seconds of winning the British GT Championship’s Blue Riband endurance race, the Silverstone 500, for a record third time.

The 23-year-old from Forfar, partnered by Shaun Balfe in the No 78 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo2, prepared by Barwell Motorsport, capitalised on a late Safety Car period and split-second timing by his pitcrew, to grab a sensational lead in the three-hour race with just 27 minutes remaining.

But while the Scot quickly opened a 1.2sec gap to the second-placed Mercedes, immediately setting his fastest lap of the race on the 3.66-mile, 18-turn circuit, trouble was looming in the shape of the third-placed BMW. With 22-minutes remaining, the BMW had eased itself into second.

“As soon as I saw the BMW in P2 I knew we had a real race on our hands for sure,” Mitchell, personally backed by Huntly-based Black Bull Scotch Whisky, Tunnocks, Lamborghini Edinburgh, Upper Dysart and Alan Davie Transport, explained, “because they were extremely fast in the dry this weekend. Plus they had a lot more straight-line speed than us.

“Once he got on to my bumper it was only a matter of time before he was going to be able to pull alongside and pass me.

“But I’m proud to have been able to battle as strongly as we did and come away with a P2, just over a second off the win. The whole team did a fantastic job when the opportunity presented itself, and we made the most of it.”

Balfe started the #78 from sixth on the 43-car grid, and pitted from eighth to hand the car over to Mitchell during the first Safety Car period after 15 minutes. Fifty minutes later the Scot handed the car back to his team-mate from seventh.

With 51 minutes remaining, an incident involving another two cars triggered the events which catapulted Mitchell and the #78 car to the front of the field.

“We knew if there were any Safety Cars in final period of the race we would all have to be ready, so we were all sitting primed to spring into action,” Mitchell continued.

“We saw the crash, and even before the Safety Car had been called we were getting into place. That meant everything was ready for Shaun coming in and for me to jump into the car.

“It came at the perfect time for us because we were planning to pit around that time anyway. It basically resulted in us getting a free pitstop. A lot of our competitors pitted as well, but because we did it first and the team again delivered a faultless pitstop, were were able to come out in the lead. That’s what made the difference.

“Shaun did a fantastic job through both his stints, and the Barwell crew are renowned for their pinsharp, immediate strategic calls. They enhanced that reputation again today.”

Mitchell, who first won the Silverstone 500 in 2020 to seal his British GT title, and followed it up with victory again last year — he’s the only driver to have won the Silverstone 500 twice — knows the result boosts his championship hopes for this season.

“This result definitely puts us right back in the hunt, especially with some of the other top cars in the championship not having had a such a good race,” he said. “We head to Donington for the next round aiming to do exactly the same as we did this weekend, score good championship points.”

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