David Bartrum's Blog
Motorbase British GT, 14th April 2012
"At the last minute, we got the green light to add another Porsche 911 GT3R to the British GT squad for Steve Parish, but it was a big rush to get the car ready for the opening race of the season at Oulton Park over the Easter weekend.
"By the Monday morning before Easter, two of my guys were heading for Germany with a trailer. I bought the second Porsche over the phone on Friday, which was a 2011 car. To get another car in such a panic, I had to make do with a second hand car. It came from Munich, so I sent one guy to Munich and one guy to Porsche in Stuttgart because we needed an update kit for it.
"They arrived back at the workshop at 6.45am on Wednesday and the truck was due to leave for Oulton Park on Thursday afternoon. I've never seen a race car with so many logos and decals on it. It was double wrapped with PVC and it needed the update kit fitted. The first thing we had to do was take the wrap off and whole team of 14 people each had a bit of car. It was very well wrapped and it took us four hours to get it back to bare white.
"By 9am we had the car on the ramp and the engine and gearbox and four corners came down. The engine went with our main technical man Richard Townsend to do the updates, which included a rebuild of the top end. The gearbox went with Tim Hull and each touring car mechanic took one corner to rebuild. Ricky Martino got inside the shell with all the new wiring looms and the ECUs.
"You can't believe the amount of parts in the update kit. It is so well done, but it all needed to be fitted. The panel work went to Ants Waller as a couple of wings and a bumper needed repainting. The update kit included the paddle shift system for the gearbox, wiring looms, ECU, inlet manifold, gear sets, engine top end, trumpets and sensors. It was all there and it was very impressive. It is a very nice job by Porsche to create such a good GT car.
"We got it all re-assembled and the car was running by 11pm Wednesday and then we started putting the livery on. George & Stuart from Geographics arrived and we worked until 3am and the car finally looked like it should do. The boys did a few more hours on Thursday morning and got it set-up on the flat patch and ran it up to go through the systems. Everyone worked very hard and everything worked perfectly. That says a lot about the team and a lot about Porsches.
"It went in the truck on Thursday afternoon to go to Oulton Park. They set the garage up on Friday and I was really pleased with the way it looked. The drivers saw the car first time Saturday morning. Nick Tandy went first in free practice to check that everything worked. There are not many better Porsche drivers! Steve patiently watched the session and they both drove in the second session. Daniele Perfetti and Michael Caine did a sterling job with the other car.
"Unfortunately, when they came to qualifying the amateur driver does the first stint and Steve got shafted by a Ferrari 458 and pushed wide down the grass, which took the rads and bumpers off the car amongst other things. So Steve only did two laps and we had to fix it as fast as we could to try and get Nick out. We needed five more minutes: the boys did a really good job but we didn't quite make it, so they had to start both races from the back. We had to replace all three radiators, the front bumper and floor assembly, all the under trays and vanes. There was a lot of damage for just running down the grass.
"Porsche Motorsport in Stuttgart kindly sent over the parts truck, so we had a full artic of parts next to us in the paddock with a technical guy and they had everything we might have needed. We had some spares but that was a great support. I think we might have got the car fixed without it, but it would have been shaky. I'm very grateful for that and it just shows Porsche's commitment to motorsport and I don't think it could be bettered by any manufacturer. They sent a complete parts truck all the way from Stuttgart to Oulton Park at very short notice, and on a Bank Holiday weekend.
"24 GT cars and 48 drivers in the rain at Oulton Park was a recipe for carnage but everyone was very professional. We were a bit on the back foot for race day but Daniele and Michael had done a good job in qualifying because it was all going on in heavy rain.
"The boys raced very well and Steve went from the back of the grid for the first race. He kept his nose clean and went forward and got up to about 16th and we finally got an 11th place out of the first race with some demon driving. It was very difficult in the spray and Michael Caine was on the radio saying how bad it was. But he also did a very good job and Daniele did the same and they were sixth in the first race and then got up to fourth in the second race. They worked superbly as a pairing and Daniele really raised his game in very tough conditions.
"Steve impressed my massively. We did a very slick pit stop and made up some more places in the second race to get up to fifth with a few laps to go. But we were just pipped by Charlie Bateman on the last lap but one with the Audi. Steve didn't want to lose what he'd got and was being cautious and Charlie saw that big Motorbase sticker on the back of the Porsche and probably grew horns to get past it.
"We'll take that for a first weekend considering the team work that went in to getting the second car to the circuit. It was all hands on deck and I was very proud of the team. I really enjoyed the weekend. The really good thing was getting back to the workshops and unloading two cars that were very, very dirty but didn't have any damage on them at all. That should be a lesson the touring car drivers. We've now taken the Parish car apart to do a few more things and the next race isn't until mid-May at the Nurburgring. We want to do some testing before then."