911 in Motorsport: British GT finale & ALMS Virginia report

Despite the best efforts of the Porsche stalwart, Michael Caine could not become the first driver to win back-to-back British GT titles.
Despite his best efforts, Michael Caine could not become the first driver to win back-to-back British GT titles.

British GT: Donington Park, Leicestershire, UK
With a victory last time out at Zandvoort, Motorbase Performance would have been excused for coming into the final round of the 2013 championship full of confidence.

Despite this success, team boss, David Bartrum was understandably reserved before the weekend’s action kicked off around the 2.49-mile Grand Prix layout at Donington Park. With 130kg of ballast, the Porsche 911 GT3 R was going to be severely disadvantaged compared to its competitors.

This lack of pace was borne out in the first free practice session, with Caine’s best lap 1.473 seconds slower than pace-setter, Rob Barff’s Ferrari 458 Italia GT3. Qualifying saw a similar gap to the top of the timesheets, with the Oman Air Motorbase car lining up in 18th place.

With Al Harthy starting the car in the two-hour race, the Omani driver was quickly able to carve through the field to 15th place by the end of lap eight.

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The relationship between team and driver is vital to success, something Motorbase have shown time and again this season.

Unfortunately, the Porsche’s swift progress was hampered on the 13th tour by a clumsy move by David Jones in the Mercedes SLS AMG GT3.

Running three-wide round the Melbourne Loop, Jones tapped Al Harthy into a spin. This wasn’t the Mercedes’ first incident during the race and, nine laps later, Jones would be disqualified from the race.

Having been knocked down to last, Al Harthy worked his way back through the squabbling field of slower GT4 machinery. By the end of the 30th tour, the Porsche 911 was back in 15th place.

Al Harthy has shown prodigious speed for a series rookie. Will 2014 be a year of greater success?
Al Harthy has shown prodigious speed for a series rookie. Will 2014 be a year of greater success?

As the pitstops cycled through, Al Harthy ran as high as second before handing over to Caine on lap 37. Strong in and out laps returned the Motorbase car to the circuit in 14th.

The retirement of the Team LNT Ginetta G55, and the mechanical woes experienced by the BMW Z4 GT3 of 888 Optimum Racing promoted Caine to 12th. And this is where the Porsche 911 GT3 R would finish, as the last car on the lead lap.

It may not have been the finish to the season the Al Harthy (or any of the Motorbase crew) was hoping for. However, battling against the ballast bestowed upon them by the success of the Trackspeed Porsches, 2013 has seen Motorbase take two race wins.

Competitors have had this view twice this year. Unfortunately, Donington Park was not one of those times.
Competitors have had this view twice this year. Unfortunately, Donington Park was not one of those times.

2014 should certainly see them back at the sharp end of the grid, especially with Al Harthy now enjoying a year’s experience in the British GT Championship under his belt.

American Le Mans Series: Virginia International Raceway, Virginia, USA
The ALMS has not been a happy hunting ground for the Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs this season. The penultimate round of the 2013 season at Virginia International Raceway looked no different when the Paul Miller Racing car was involved in a huge accident with Marco Holzer at the wheel.

After starting seventh, the CORE autosport Porsche 911 GT3 RSR was fighting for the win for much of the race.
After starting seventh, the CORE autosport Porsche 911 GT3 RSR was fighting for the win for much of the race.

However, recently-announced 2014 factory team, CORE autosport chose the right time to put in their best performance of the year.

In qualifying, it was the number 48 Paul Miller car that led Stuttgart charge, finishing the session fourth. Patrick Long ensured the CORE 911 would line up in a disappointed seventh, albeit only 0.6 seconds away from pole position.

When the green flag waved, Long’s teammate, Colin Braun initially fell further down the GT order. However, the young American didn’t put a foot wrong, making the most of others’ mistakes, either on the track or in the pits.

A bit of luck with yellow flags, and some clever pit strategy catapulted the CORE autosport car into the reckoning.
A bit of luck with yellow flags, and some clever pit strategy catapulted the CORE autosport car into the reckoning.

A full-course caution with just 35 mintues left on the clock put the CORE autsport Porsche 911 (now with Long in the cockpit) into the lead, thanks to the team’s alternative fuel and tyre strategy.

However, the Risi Competizione Ferrari 458 was hot the on heels of the Porsche once racing got underway again. With just under half and hour remaining, Matteo Malucelli found a way through, leaving Long to fend off the attentions of the works Corvettes and BMWs.

Although frustrated to miss out on a first win of the year, Long was understandably happy with second place, having moved up five places during the course of the 165-minute race.

Patrick Long and Colin Braun enjoyed the spoils of their best finish of the 2013 season.
Patrick Long and Colin Braun enjoyed the spoils of their best finish of the 2013 season.

Holzer’s Paul Miller Racing Porsche 911 came to grief after a high-speed collision with the slower GTC 911 of Eduardo Cisneros. Both cars careered into the Armco, with Cisneros’ car cartwheeling a couple of times before coming to a rest atop the tyre barriers.

Thankfully, neither driver was injured in the frightening accident, a testament to the strength of modern Weissach machinery.

The Paul Miller Racing car didn't return to the paddock in this state after Marco Holzer's sizeable accident.
The Paul Miller Racing car didn’t return to the paddock in this state after Marco Holzer’s sizeable accident.

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