RB: I entered the Bullitt Racing stronghold, located just 15 minutes outside Marbella, on the Costa del Sol in southern Spain. Inside there is the quiet hum of the well organised racing team preparing the McLaren GT4 for a testing weekend in Portimao. I look around and see some other interesting cars, a rear end of GT40, covered with a dust sheet, a 1969 Dodge Charger that has had a serious engine transplant of a fire breathing hemi raining 7 litre aluminium engine and a Mercedes SLS. I could go on but you get the point, these guys love cars generally, but preferably fast ones and of course racing ones!
I am escorted up to the board room overlooking the workshop by Jose, the team administrator and all round go-to guy, and am introduced to David Price. Relaxed and looking younger than his years, David is part of motor racing history. From starting out in single seater racing in the early seventies, David has run his own highly successful F3 and GP2 race teams with drivers such as Nigel Mansell, Martin Brundle, Johnny Dumfries, Tiff Needell, all driving for him at some time. Having had success in Formula 1 as the Director of Racing at Brabham, David ran several successful sports car teams in the UK and America, including works cars for Mercedes and Nissan. I take a moment to go over his racing legacy.
When I talk to David about his successes he interrupts me, “sounds like an epitaph! I’m not dead yet! Yes, I have had a fantastic career and I am happy to say a successful one, but you’re only as good as your last race or season! You have to keep moving, keep developing and yes keep trying to win!”
RB: So what made you get into GT4?
DP: Well I have been involved GT racing since its inception. Firstly with GT1 in 1995, that was with Mclaren in a F1 GTR and we won the World Series that year. In GT2 it was with an Aston Martin run by Gulf Racing and subsequently we moved up to GT3 with a McLaren M12c.
I have known Stephen for about 9 years, I was supposed to be semi-retired but he mentioned that he was looking at going into racing. I suggested GT4 as it seemed competitive, well organised, and you visited some interesting tracks. He asked me if I could give him a hand to set things up and it seemed to snowball from there!
RB: What’s new with Bullitt this season? You are only a year old, and I must say the set up and infrastructure is pretty impressive!
DP: Yes well as I said we continue to move forward and I must say I am pretty excited about where we are going. But in terms of what’s new, it’s probably quicker if you ask me what isn’t new, apart from me!
After last season we sat down and evaluated what we need to do to create a championship winning team. Stephen Pattrick, Bullitt’s owner and driver, had driven well and competitively given this was his first season and had learned a tremendous amount under the tutelage of Andy Meyrick, our professional driver. Andy will be racing this season with Stephen once again but will also be our Head of Performance, which leads me nicely into our big decision. Having looked at all the manufacturers offering cars this season we made the decision to go with Mercedes and purchased two cars. We offered the opportunity to drivers wishing to participate in the GT4 European series to drive in one of our cars.
RB: What do you like about the Mercedes?
DP: Well as you know in GT4 there is a balance of performance on all cars so it’s not about having a car that is faster. It’s about the platform of the car, the ability to work on the areas you can to incrementally give you a car that allows you to present the driver with a competitive, reliable car. This car must be tuned to their driving style and take into account the characteristics of the different tracks etc, it’s all about incremental improvements through iteration.
Just as important is the back up from the manufacturer in terms of reliability, technical support and development. Mercedes have undertaken an incredible amount of testing to get this car right. I am confident that Mercedes’ support during the season will be first class, and I do of course have some experience with Mercedes in the past.
RB: (NB: by that he means being the team manager of Sauber-Mercedes and winning the World Sports Car Championship and Le Mans in 1989.)
RB: When do the cars arrive?
DP: We are expecting them in March, which is a little later than desired, but we will be one of the first teams in Europe to get them and we are already making all necessary preparations.
RB: What type of drivers are you looking for, for the second car?
DP: Well we have decided that we will only field one PRO/Am car and that will be Stephen and Andy, we don’t want any competition or issues that can occur when you have two cars in one team vying for the same championship. We will want to field a Silver/Silver or Am/Am car. In terms of driver, apart from the traditional gentlemen driver I believe that GT4 gives a great opportunity for up and coming younger drivers wishing to launch their careers towards professional GT Racing such as GT3 and works teams.
RB: What will Bullitt Racing be offering?
DP: The opportunity to drive a well-prepared Mercedes within a focused, positive, professional environment, which is Bullitt Racing. We have an experienced team of race mechanics and engineers, and of course Andy as our Head of Performance and MSA qualified coach. The team will work with them to maximise their potential and that of the car. Being based where we are there is also plenty of opportunities for test days as we have Ascari race track around an hour away and several other options close to hand, in fact next week we will be in Portimao in Portugal. Malaga airport is 40 minutes away so it’s easy to fly into us. Of course, it goes without saying we are looking to test at all the tracks that we will be racing on this season.
Additionally, this year we have ordered another transporter that provides a driver VIP section and separate driver changing facilities, that will be in addition to our existing transporter. We understand that it it’s important to provide first class facilities and hospitality for the driver’s family, friends and business associates, and we aim to set a new standard.
I leave David to take the calls and make the plans, but I for one cannot wait to see this year’s European GT4 Championship…go Bullitt!
Story by Roger Buckford