It was a first weekend as a GT Cup driver that Natalia Balbo will not forget given her positive performance in the 500 Nocturnes 2021.
Completely different rhythms and new automatisms have engaged the driver from Veneto in the recent French weekend on the Anneau Du Rhin circuit during the new edition of the endurance race, all at night, on board of the Peugeout 208 of Invictus Corse.
Having found the right feeling with the team and her new teammate Alberto Piccolo, Natalia was able to concentrate on the numerous free practice sessions made available by the organisation in the afternoon and evening of Friday, which were especially useful in understanding the dynamics of an endurance race.
During qualifying, on her flying lap, Natalia managed to lower her performance by a second, recording the best performance of the team, P6 in her category.
As with all self-respecting night races, the start was strictly under artificial lights, the real focal point of the weekend, which affected the pace and performance. No mistakes in the stints and recovery of three positions under the chequered flag for the 208. A fitting finale to Natalia Balbo’s first endurance weekend.
Natalia: “As a first impression, I can say that I didn’t have much difficulty adapting to the car, which is small and compact. Probably the most difficult aspect was managing a front-wheel drive. Some of the movements are different to a rear-wheel drive car, obviously. Braking also caused the car to move a lot but, by getting used to the brakes, we were able to maximise the braking. Races of this type are different in the timing I am used to, we were running in the afternoon and in the evening, also adapting to the change of light and especially managing the traffic was a big challenge”.
“In qualifying I set the best time of my team and managed to lower the time by a second, so I was really surprised and happy with the result. We divided the four-hour race into three 1h 30-minute stints. I did the first stint including the start, which was a bit different than usual, but I managed it well. I tried not to make any mistakes and with consistency, together with my partner we gained three positions, which is the most important thing in endurance racing. I am very grateful to Automobiles Gelain for the simulator sessions on Thursday evening, they proved to be fundamental and helped me a lot to learn the track and get used to everything.
Compared to karting, the trickiest thing was learning the spaces, especially in the right-hand bends, which is never easy when you go from karting to GT cars. The same goes for finding the limit, moving a very different ‘mass’ means that you can’t drive with your body like the kart, although this last aspect was very useful to me. However, karting has taught me to feel the car’s behaviours with my body, this can definitely make a difference. As I said, I would like to thank Invictus Corse and Automobiles Gelain very much for the opportunity to experience an “out of the ordinary” event like the 500 Nocturnes”.
for more information on Natalia Balbo, visit our websites and follow our social profiles