David Bartrum's Blog
British GT blog of 22 March 2012
We went to the Autosport International show in January with new hopes for the season. On the touring car side we were very much focussed on running three cars this year. We're running the same cars as 2011 but with updates and developments to suspensions and engines, which means we are able to do the things to the cars that we weren't able to do last year.
We had a very busy winter because we had one eye on the future with the NGTC side of things. I suppose that had a bearing on my decision with the Porsche Carrera Cup GB team. Having thoroughly enjoyed many seasons in the Carrera Cup - the people, the teams and the structure, which is unrivalled in my mind - we took the decision to move on to GT racing.
It was quite a hard decision to make because the Carrera Cup has been a big part of our life. We started out as a Carrera Cup team and we've stayed with the Porsche brand to go into the British GT Championship.
It was quite tough to get a new car this close to the start of the season but we got our first 911 GT3R brand new from Porsche and we're waiting for news on a second car. I did a 26-hour journey to the bottom of Germany to collect it. The first car will be driven by Michael Caine and Danielle Perfetti. Michael is a stalwart of the team and our longest-serving driver. Danielle came on board last year and is a European-based businessman. He fits the team fantastically and has a wicked sense of humour.
Michael has been with the team throughout and has been in Carrera Cup and touring cars with us. He's effectively our crash test dummy but he would prefer the title of product development manager! Michael is very much part of the touring car team as well as the GT team.
Tim Hull has taken over the running of the GT team and we've got Ricky Martino on board, who used to be at Trackspeed. Geoff Kingston is engineering the car with him, so we've got two first class engineers. Ricky brings a wealth of knowledge about the current GT Porsche.
We go out to do as well as we can in any championship we enter and the British GT Championship is no different. We want to win it. I think they've done a pretty good job because the grid is mega and the quality of the cars is first class. This is not our first foray into British GT as we were runners-up in 2005 with Chris Stockton and Andy Britnell.
In terms of old rivalries, we've got Tim Harvey in the GT paddock, so the old Caine/Harvey rivalry goes on: same car, different teams. I hope some of the spirit of the Carrera Cup will go across to the GT paddock. It's a very exciting project and I'm really looking for to the first round at Oulton Park at Easter.
We needed a fresh challenge. For me, the BTCC weekends are so busy and running three touring cars and four or five Porsches as well would have been a tall order. We had a tough season last year in Carrera Cup, which had its highs and lows, but we finished on a high with Nick Tandy winning the last three races. I do feel very much that this is a sabbatical and that Carrera Cup is unfinished business for Motorbase. We've won Pro-Am1 and we've won the team championship, but we've not won the overall title yet. We'd like to go back at some point and win the overall championship. We've come close twice with Steven Kane and Michael Caine in the past.
The cars at the front of British GT are now more like the GT2 cars of old, with traction control, paddle shift, ABS and all the toys. The Porsche GT3 is such a quick car. I think that, as a pairing, Michael and Danielle are pretty good.
The GT car is an exciting project and is something to stimulate the mind and the team. It's a new engineering challenge and it is a fantastic bit of kit. The car is completely different to the Carrera Cup car. It's very wide, 1955mm wide, which is a lot of car.
We've run it a couple of times. It's a typical racing Porsche in that it is ready to go on track just as it comes from the factory. But there is a lot more detail to the car. It's got fatter arches, bigger bumpers and a wider body, the mechanics of it are a proper engineering feat. It has got a different set of boundaries and requires a different level of preparation. It will take more workshop time and there are more driver aids in the car. But you need the driver aids because given the speed of this car you'd not get it stopped without ABS. The paddle shift helps with the down change.
This car is an endurance car, so it will go longer and harder on the tyres. There will be a lot in how you set the car up to perform across a race distance. It's a superb car and it looks lovely.
In the Carrera Cup the teams are involved until the race starts. Then you have to sit and watch until someone comes in with a wheel or a bumper hanging off. In GT racing, the team is involved in every aspect of what is going on and is really involved with the drivers. They'll have pit stops, fuel stops, driver changes, safety cars and all sorts of things to deal with. We've got the usual one-hour races, some two-hour races and a three-hour race. On a full tank it should run for about an hour and 10 minutes and the team members will be on their toes all the time.
Although we've bought this car for British GT, it does open up a route to Europe for other GT race series. You can pretty much go anywhere with it. A Porsche GT car is like a MasterCard; you can stick it in the truck and take it anywhere in the world, because there is always somewhere you can race a Porsche.
The backup from Porsche for the GT car is first class. If you need something, you make the call to Germany and they will get it to you for the next morning, even if you are at a circuit. I can phone up from the workshop in Kent at 3pm and the parts are on the doorstep at 9am the next day. The support is superb. Porsche has a system that works very well and is very efficient.
The choice to go Porsche was made with the heart. We looked strongly at BMW and cars from Ferrari, McLaren and Audi GT3 are all off the shelf. The road cars that people who win the lottery go and buy are all on that grid. The fact that British GT has got that level of car on the grid made it extremely interesting for Motorbase.