David Bartrum's Blog
British GT Silverstone Race Report - 9th September 2012
"We didn't test before the race as there was nothing available on the circuit with the race cars, only various track days. Daniele Perfetti and Steve Parish went on the simulator, because that was the best way to learn the track. The Silverstone Grand Prix circuit seems to be very changeable and it's not a circuit we've got a great deal of knowledge of. It's not a track we get to use very much. The last time we raced on the old Grand Prix circuit was in the Porsche Supercup in 2007.
"So we just went there on Saturday morning and got on with it. It was our first three-hour race. We'd done a 24-hour race six years ago, so it was a big occasion for Motorbase. We worked away in qualifying to get the cars where we wanted them, but it didn't really come together for any of the Porsches. To be honest, the Porsches were all over the place at Silverstone, so it was not going so well for Porsche round the Grand Prix circuit.
"It was a disappointing qualifying. Michael Caine felt that there was a slight noise on the gearbox, so we decided to take the box out after qualifying and strip it for inspection. That meant a late evening for the boys on Saturday night. They pulled the gearbox apart and put it back together again and there was nothing really wrong with it. We had a good look at the clutch and the slave cylinder and put it all back in. We bled the system and finished about 11.30pm.
"Meanwhile, the engineers had a good look at the data and the next morning we went back to the circuit and made a few small set-up changes to try and refine the cars for the circuit. On Sunday, Michael went out in the warm up and went fastest: better than in qualifying and fastest overall. He came on the radio and said the car felt fantastic and the gearbox was brilliant. Then he got back in the car and drove a brilliant race.
"After the warm-up we got all the team together and went through pit-stop strategy and all the possible scenarios with any safety car periods. We practised pit-stops and driver changes. The biggest thing for us was double stacking: both cars in at once. If you get a safety car you might need to bring both cars in at once and, like most teams, we've only got one fuel rig. You have a two-minute stop in British GT: you cannot exit the pits until the two minutes is up. So we practised how we would deal with both cars coming in together, and in the race it happened.
"The first stops were straightforward single car stops. Our timed stops were brilliant: we had two at two minutes dead, one at two minutes and one second, one at two minutes and two seconds and two at two minutes and four seconds.
"We had problem at the second stop as Benji Hetherington hadn't plugged Steve's radio in before he left the pit, which the departing driver should do. We radio checked Steve on the way out of the pits and realised he didn't have radio contact. So we reverted to the pit board, but Steve isn't always the greatest person at recognising a board. He must have been thinking it was very quiet. So we started showing him the board and he didn't seem to react to it.
"Then it became very apparent that we needed to pit Perfetti. So I made the call to pit Perfetti and called him just as he came into the complex. I shouted to the boys to get the other set of tyres out of the tyre oven and keep Parish's tyres very close by because he might have seen the board.
"With that Daniele came in and went straight into the fuelling bay. Then Steve arrived, as he had seen the board. So we fuelled the first car and pushed it forward to the first tyre bay. The driver got back into that car just as the other one started fuelling.
"So the tyre guys did the first car and just as they finished that so did the fuel on the second car and the guys did the tyre change on that one. We got both drivers back in, because once the fuelling is finished they can get back in the car. When they were released it was two minutes dead for one and two minutes and one second for the other, so we only lost one second on the pit stop.
"The pit stops were on the money and so were the guys on the team. I was very proud of them. We had a couple of little indiscretions by the drivers on the first stop when they missed the bay and had to be pushed back. The downside is that the race officials were very stringent about exceeding the track limits and Benji fell foul of it and he had to make several unscheduled visits to the pits.
"That car finished 16th, but Perfetti and Caine really pushed and worked from 11th on the grid and ended up third, which was a great result and has thrown them right back in the title race with one round to go, 10.5 points behind the leaders. They've dragged themselves right back into contention for the last round and it is great for Motorbase to be part of that in our first year back in GT. I'm really looking forward to the last round and hopefully Donington will be a Porsche circuit. We've all got to be on our game that weekend. It's a two-hour race with points and a half on offer. It's a good time to be in British GT."