BTCC returnee Michael Caine admits that he is aiming for a triple top ten finish at Croft this weekend, as the GT racer makes his third foray into the British Touring Car Championship with Motorbase.
Caine, 43, has spent his racing career competing predominantly in GT racing, including the British GT Championship and in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB with Motorbase Performance. In 2011 he stepped up to the BTCC, completing six races for Motorbase at the wheel of their S2000-spec Focus. This weekend at Croft sees Caine competing in an NGTC-spec car for the first time.
“My first impression this morning was that it’s an interesting car to drive,” said Caine to TouringCars.Net “We obviously got no running in second free practice [due to the red flag] which is a real shame because if we knew what we know now we would have made another change. But we’re not running as much boost and we’re in the middle of the Airwaves cars. We’re alright with that. I was quite surprised when they said we were lying tenth at one stage, which is great.”
Caine admits that he was overly cautious in qualifying, which saw him finish the session in a respectable 15th overall, outqualifying regular Motorbase driver Árón Smith and just three tenths slower than the experienced Mat Jackson.
“The GT person in me doesn’t kill the tyres like the more moronic touring car driver,” explained Caine. “Every single time on my flying lap I went down to turn one, locked the fronts and went straight on across the gravel. The problem is I didn’t put enough heat in the tyres. It’s about going out and being very hard on your front tyres and getting enough heat into them. Next time if I got the chance again I’d kill them on the out lap and then I should be fine.”
As a result of being a late entry, Caine has to run with reduced boost this weekend. The GT racer explains that TOCA gave the team the option of running with 40 kilograms of ballast, or to run on flat boost. The result means that Caine is down on power but has a car which is set-up much more the way he likes.
“We’re 40-odd brake [horsepower] down because I’m on flat boost. I can either have 45 kilos of weight or no boost, so I’m on the flat boost. In free practice it cost us six tenths of a second down the back straight – that’s the difference. We made the decision beforehand and overlaid Árón’s car to mine, and then Mat’s car, and that’s where we see the difference. We tried to ask them [TOCA] that we need the car to show quite well but Mr Gow wouldn’t have it!”
“We’re here to try and come up with something to help the Airwaves cars, and they’re going their set route and we’re going down a completely different route. The most important thing that we come away with is that the Airwaves cars have a good weekend.
“If I didn’t want to win, I wouldn’t turn up. That’s the thing – you have to play the team game. If I can come away with three top ten finishes and the boys come away with a couple of trophies – job done as far as I’m concerned.”
When quizzed as to whether Caine would be making further appearances in the BTCC for the team this year, he remained circumspect.
“I’d love it to be more than that, but I think it is [just a one-off],” added Caine. “Motorbase need somebody in the car, because there’s no point having the third car there not working for a living and not helping to progress the team. So if there’s anybody out there who wants to chuck some money my way, to race the third car, I would absolutely love it.
“When I did the first-ever touring car race at Rockingham on lap three I radioed Dave Bartrum and went ‘mate, this is it – this is the best thing ever’ and I literally would retire that day. Until that point I didn’t get touring cars, I didn’t understand it. You don’t understand it until you do an event, and you then go absolutely for it.”