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David Bartrum's Blog

Motorbase British GT blog – 9th October 2012

"We went into the Donington weekend very apprehensive. We were fifth in the line of cars that could win the title, nine and a half points behind the leading Ferrari. A lot more went into the cars than usual with a lot of unnecessary extra preparation because everyone was paranoid. We checked and changed everything: bearings, shafts and all sorts of things that didn't need changing. We did both cars to the same level. We've had this before when we've got close to championships. You get a degree of paranoia. Both cars were checked and double checked.

"On the driver front, we had a very excitable Daniele Perfetti: he's passionate about his racing. Michael Caine is a second-hand car salesman from Newmarket with an imaginary friend. We made him stay at the hotel Saturday night, just in case his little girl Charlotte was teething. We brought Stephen Jelley back in to partner Steve Parish so the camp was very level and to make sure Steve got all the help he wanted.

"We went out for qualifying and we weren't particularly great. Tim Harvey bet me £5.50, which is what I had in my pocket, that our Porsche wouldn't be in the top five and he was absolutely right. A lot of it was caution, because no one wanted to risk going off or having a problem.

"We pulled eighth and ninth on the grid, which was okay. It was a bit of a mish-mash in qualifying and there were a couple of cars in there that were not championship points scorers, with quality drivers like Peter Kox and Alvaro Parente. It was a 32-car field of quality cars: everything you'd want to own if you were a millionaire, all sat there on the grid. It was all the lottery winners' cars.

"On Sunday morning it was very apparent that Mr Caine had enjoyed a good night's sleep. We'd done a few set-up tweaks on both cars over night. Everything had been checked and double checked again on Saturday night. Cainey came in on Sunday morning like a new pin, all full of the joys and absolutely ready to go. He was wired to the moon and it was like he'd had a sugar overload and he spent the morning driving Stephen Jelley mad. But Stephen took it very well. But Cainey was clearly up for it and went out in the morning and blitzed it. He was fastest and that's when we knew we had the real Michael Caine for the rest of the weekend.

"Daniele and Steve P were the two starting drivers and it was going to be a difficult job. I sat them both down before the start and told them to keep out of trouble and not get dragged into anything. Fuel calculations were going to be important. We could get an hour and five minutes out of a Porsche and that would mean the second driver could push harder in their stint.

"Daniele did a very, very good job in the opening laps and then got himself all the way up to second from eighth. It was a stunning drive and he got 'driver of the weekend' for the whole championship. He dropped back a couple of places when the Lamborghini and the McLaren got going, but we had a policy that we weren't going to fight unnecessarily. If the car wasn't points' scoring, we'd tell the drivers and they wouldn't fight.

"Daniele maintained excellent pace and Steve was on good pace as well, although he didn't get quite such a good start and he got pushed around a bit. But he settled down and did well. Daniele came in from fourth and everything went well in the pit-stop. The team did a really good job with both stops. We brought Daniele in slightly before Steve. Ricky Martino on the pit wall had been asking the drivers for a fuel read out every three laps and was constantly re-calculating. There is a digital read out showing how much fuel has been used and how much is left in the tank.

"The pit stops were superb and, if anything, I was over cautious on the watch but I wanted to avoid getting a time penalty for a short stop. Trackspeed picked up a one-second stop-go penalty. Stephen Jelley went out and pushed really hard and pulled the car up to seventh. Stephen drove really well.

"Michael got his head down and drove very concisely and very well. He passed a few cars and got up to third and then to second, chasing the Jones' Mercedes. But the McLarens and the Lamborghini were coming. It was decided we wouldn't fight them as they weren't scoring points: it didn't matter if we were second or fourth on the road.

"Now we were trying to calculate the points and see where everyone was. By now the Nissan was out with suspension problems, so we had to see where David Ashburn was, where Oliver Bryant was in the BMW and where Matt Griffin was in the Ferrari. This went on for a long time, but in the end Michael's ear piece fell out. He was saying: "I can't hear you," down the radio and it was all very exciting.

"The last 20 minutes were brilliant. There was a group of cars a little way back getting together and what happened to us depended on what happened in that group. Unfortunately for him, but fortunately for us, Oli Bryant got a bit too keen and hit the Ferrari, which took the Ferrari out and that was a game-changing moment for us. Until then we were P4 in the race and P2 in the points, but Oli got a drive-through penalty for that. I felt sorry for both those guys as they had been excellent competitors all year.

"We did have to worry about the Trackspeed car, because that was on the march. But it all came down to the line and we won the championship, but Michael didn't know because he couldn't hear anything. He was deaf at the time, although he's at his most deaf when you bid him on a second hand car.

"It was joyous. And for Porsche it was fantastic, because we won the drivers' championship and Trackspeed won the teams' title. That was probably against the odds, because there were a lot of fast cars out there.

"It was a very challenging race for the whole team and I think that it is the best championship victory so far for Motorbase Performance. To go to British GT this year was a big decision and then when you get there you find the quality in depth on the grid. To beat that quality of grid made it very special.

"Everyone who was with us this year, team and drivers, was with us in the Carrera Cup and that shows the quality of the Carrera Cup grid. We were able to go fast because we had Porsche-friendly drivers. When I finally retire, that will be one of the successes I look back on. I thoroughly enjoyed the team, the people and the championship. We had unrivalled support from Porsche AG. They were always on the end of the phone and we had excellent backing."

David Bartrum