When strapped right into a Maserati MC12, Michael Bartels was some of the prolific drivers of the GT1 period, amassing 4 drivers’ titles between 2006 and 2010, and tallying three victories within the Spa 24 Hours between 2005 and 2008. However his profession additionally straddled one other well-known period, the German having made his sportscar debut in a one-off Group C outing at Donington within the 1990 World SportsCar Championship.
Bartels had simply missed out on being included within the famed Mercedes junior workforce established for that yr, made up of the three best-placed drivers from the 1989 German Components three championship.
Bartels received extra races than champion Karl Wendlinger and Michael Schumacher, his tally of three matched solely by Heinz-Harald Frentzen, however a poorer ending file meant he completed behind the trio within the standings.
Nonetheless, Bartels appeared to have the perfect of each worlds in 1990 as his Marlboro-facilitated commencement to Components 3000 – the place he once more got here up towards Frentzen and Wendlinger – was mixed with a Porsche junior deal. That meant he was entered in chosen Carrera Cup races and loved loads of seat time pounding across the Weissach take a look at monitor, entrusted by well-known engineers Norbert Singer and Roland Kussmaul with creating new elements for the venerable 962.
“It was an exquisite expertise with these legends of engineering,” he says. “I used to be doing a number of testing, I used to be hungry, younger and I needed to ship. So I used to be doing a number of laps – there was nonetheless a number of engine mappings, how the enhance was coming in. The factories have been by no means stopping creating.”
The works connection meant Bartels was well-placed to make his Group C bow, and this was helped additional by his double European Hillclimb champion father Willi’s “very tight connection” with 1984 and 1985 Le Mans-winning Porsche entrant Reinhold Joest.
“They grew up collectively and did the hillclimb races, they have been actually good associates,” says Bartels.
Bartels was rewarded for his efforts on the take a look at monitor with an outing in Joest’s Porsche within the Donington WSPC spherical in 1990
After engine failure had put paid to the earlier weekend’s Birmingham Superprix, Bartels was referred to as up by Joest to accomplice Jonathan Palmer in its #eight 962 at Donington, driving the center leg of a race through which Frentzen – the least-utilised member of the Mercedes Group C junior workforce – was additionally making his Group C debut.
Over a yr on from Porsche’s final world championship victory, scored by Joest stablemates Bob Wollek and Frank Jelinski at Dijon, Bartels was all too conscious that the occasion would possible be monopolised by Mercedes and Jaguar.
Positive sufficient, Palmer’s effort to be the perfect of the Porsches in qualifying was solely adequate for eighth. Palmer ran seventh within the early laps, however slipped again to 13th with an absence of grip. Then it was Bartels’ flip.
“For me it was tremendous, this expertise of driving a world championship race on this degree, even when it was almost with none probability” Michael Bartels
“It was not simple!” he recollects. “I bear in mind the entire weekend was with the headline, ‘Gas consumption’ – it was lifting and braking, 30 metres earlier than the nook! It was [necessary] to have the gasoline consumption below management, to not cease one other time. It was very troublesome towards the Mercedes and the Jaguar.”
An unscheduled cease with a suspected puncture that turned out to be tyre particles additional scuppered hopes of a great outcome, finally ending up 5 laps adrift of the successful Mercedes C11 of Jean-Louis Schlesser and Mauro Baldi. “Palmer continued to a disappointing 10th,” stated Autosport’s report.
Wollek and Jelinski didn’t fare significantly better, ending ninth on the street earlier than the post-race disqualification of each Jaguars for utilizing an excessive amount of gasoline lifted them to seventh.
“For me it was tremendous, this expertise of driving a world championship race on this degree, even when it was almost with none probability,” Bartels says. “Nonetheless you needed to end, to work with these engineers, with a producer. However my foremost focus was within the route of Components 1.”
Bartels determined to not pursue Group C any additional and tried a change to F1 earlier than deciding on a tin-top profession that segued into GTs
Photograph by: Motorsport Images
It might show his solely look of the season as Bartels thereafter targeted on single-seaters, with combined success. After a lawsuit from ousted driver Giovanni Bonanno precipitated his First Racing F3000 squad to fold 4 races into 1991, Bartels tried a mid-season F1 change with Group Lotus.
However with minimal testing to arrange him and an enormous shunt apply for the Spanish GP from which he was lucky to flee unscathed, he by no means managed to qualify – though the workforce’s shining gentle Mika Hakkinen often solely scraped in with the opposite automobile.
Bartels scored 4 podiums within the subsequent two seasons of F3000 however no wins – sliding off on oil when comfortably main at Enna in 1993 – and a second crack at F1 with March for 1993 fell by means of when the workforce folded.
That prompted a change to tin-tops, the place Bartels swept each races of the Worldwide Touring Automobile Championship assembly at Diepholz in 1995, however it was in GT automobiles that he loved his best success. He received the Nurburgring 24 Hours in 2000 earlier than the floodgates actually opened within the Maserati MC12 period that reached its peak by successful the short-lived GT1 World Championship in 2010.
“I’m now 53,” he says, “and I’m very grateful proper from my first go-kart expertise till at the moment that I may very well be a part of all this.”
Bartels continues to supply buyer help to MC12 house owners, and thrashed one up the Goodwood hill in 2014
Photograph by: Motorsport Images