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Motorbase Ready For The 'Toughest Thing We Have Done'

The 2013 season is set to be a big one for the Motorbase Performance team following the recent confirmation that it will return to the British GT Championship to defend the title it won in dramatic fashion last season.

Having rejoined the championship with a two-car team, the Wrotham-based outfit emerged from a heated title battle on top of the pile thanks to Michael Caine and Daniele Perfetti, who became the second successive title winners to be crowned despite not winning a race all year.

This season, Caine returns with a new team-mate in the shape of Omani racer Ahmad Al-Harthy, winner of the Pro-Am1 class in the Porsche Carrera Cup last year.

The move has seen the team re-named as 'Oman Air Motorbase' for the defence of its title, with the new-look Porsche 997 GT3-R being revealed during the team's 2013 launch at the Dagenham Ford dealership in Edgware.

While commitments elsewhere meant new-boy Al-Harthy wasn't present, Caine was able to show off his shiny new wheels to the team's impressive array of partners alongside the Ford Focus cars that will be used by the team for its British Touring Car programme.

"I think the Porsche looks fantastic and I can't wait for the season to start," Caine said. "Last year, Mat [Jackson] wasn't able to deliver the BTCC title for the team, so for me and Daniele to lift the GT crown was great for them, and gave the boys something to celebrate. To be fair, I think it was down to Daniele more than me that we won the title, and now we have the chance to try and defend it this year.

"Ahmad is a good driver who has gone well in the Carrera Cup and I think we'll make a good pairing. Having Oman Air onboard is also good - at least the Mrs knows where she's going on holiday this year!"

The fact that Motorbase start the season proudly sporting the #1 is down to a consistent campaign that paid off when the 2012 season drew to a close on that dramatic day at Donington back in September, with Perfetti and Caine coming from behind to take the crown when their rivals hit trouble during the two-hour season finale.

When the new season kicks off at Oulton Park on Easter Weekend, the Motorbase crew will now be the ones to beat, and team boss David Bartrum says his team is ready for the challenge that lies ahead.

"Last year we did a fantastic job, remained consistent all the way through and we had a bit of luck as well," he said. "That all combined to mean we lifted the championship at the end of it. Five teams could have had a bit of luck that day at Donington and we had it all to play for from our position. Daniele and Michael kept their heads brilliantly and that was how we won the championship.

"There is no doubt at all that luck was on our side but we did it and now we are aiming to defend our title. Daniele has moved on as he was only ever in the UK for two years and it was an honour for us to have him as part of the team in both the Carrera Cup and in British GT as it worked out well for us.

"Now we have Ahmad coming in to join Michael, which is a fantastic move for us. The car looks stunning in its new livery and Ahmad is an experienced Porsche racer who I think is going to surprise a few people this year. Michael knows the game and he'll keep Ahmad educated this season, so I think it's a good pairing."

With series organisers SRO having revealed an impressive entry list for the season ahead, there is little doubt that the battle for honours in 2013 will be hard-fought, so much so that Bartrum believes that trying to defend the title this year will be the 'toughest thing his team has done' - a bold statement considering that the past six months have seen Motorbase take on the challenge of becoming a constructor, after developing and building its own Ford Focus to the Next Generation rules now being used in the BTCC.

Extra weight to be carried in the #1 Porsche - updated to 2013-spec for the season ahead - will only add to the challenge.

"There is no doubt that it is going to be the toughest thing that we have done," he replied when asked about the challenge that the 2013 GT programme will provide. "If you look at the qualty of the grid and you look at the quality of the cars and the quality of the drivers; boy-oh-boy there are some top drivers in there! It will be the hardest thing to win but it be will great fun trying to do it, and we are looking forward to the challenge.

"[The extra weight] will be the interesting thing, but it is the lot we have been dealt and we will just have to work harder as a result. Michael against Richard Westbrook in the same car will be interesting when Michael has the equivalent of Benjamin Franassovici strapped in to the passenger seat next to him, but we will get on with it and do our job as those are the rules.

"I'm really looking forward to the challenge of British GT, and alongside the BTCC, it's a very good championship for us to be involved with. If you look it from a business point of view, we are planning to run four cars in British Touring Cars - three of which are cars that we have designed and built ourselves - and we are entering the British GT Championship as the defending champions; so we aren't doing much wrong."

Bartrum also confirmed that it was unlikely that a second Motorbase car would join the grid during 2013, although he didn't rule it out entirely.

"I just wanted to run the one car this season and we did the deal with Ahmad that sees us running as Oman Air Motorbase," he said. "I want to focus on defending the title this season the best way I can, and we have a busy time with the GT entry and with the BTCC and our programme there with Airwaves.

"With everything that is going on with Motorbase as a business, I think we have the balance right. I want to keep my foot in GT racing as we may go bigger again in the future, and the second car is sat in the workshop so never say never.

"The programme we have will allow us to focus on the areas we need to focus on to make sure we can deliver the quality that is required. I'm happy with where we are."

Matt Salisbury

Pics copyright to and courtesy of PSP Images