David Bartrum's Blog
Post-Knockhill, 18 August 2009
We came out of Snetterton with a very badly damaged BMW after Rob Collard's accident and a little bit of damage on Michael Caine's Porsche. Anthony Waller really stepped up to the plate and Tim Hull worked very hard to strip Rob's car quickly on Monday morning. Then Anthony got it off to the jig and got it squared up by Tuesday lunchtime, ready for panels.
Ant, Richard Townsend and 'Grump' went flat out into three evenings working on the shell and fabricating all the parts, while Tim did all he could to the car along with Alex Steele. They did the diff, the shafts and the subframe to make it as easy as possible to put it all back together. Anthony painted it on the Thursday evening, which was remarkable given the amount of damage, and it went back together on the Friday. By Saturday it was only waiting for the dampers to be finished.
It was then shaken down at MIRA on Wednesday and there wasn't a single problem. We went to MIRA on our way north to Knockhill. We could have shaken it down on Monday, because it was all done and ready. Rob was okay and I gave him a bear hug when he arrived in Scotland to make sure he was alright, and he didn't cry with pain, so he was fit! That was better than a doctor's report.
While the boys were all working very hard sorting out the BMWs, on the Tuesday after Snetterton we went off with a new Carrera Cup driver, called Liam Griffin, to the test track facility at TRL with Michael Caine. Michael showed him the Porsche and they were buzzing around for three hours and Liam got to learn all about the car.
Once he was quite confident with the car we went to a general test at Silverstone on the Friday with Michael, Ollie and Liam. We had a day's testing with Patrick de Groot, our engineer, and really got Liam into the car. He worked very hard and did some intense running and did a very good job. We like him and he's certainly our style of driver; he's now going to be part of the team for Silverstone as a toe-in-the-water for the Carrera Cup. We hope that will lead on into 2010. I hope he has a good weekend at Silverstone and enjoys being part of the team.
That was a good positive for the week after Snetterton. It showed that the momentum is continuing in the Carrera Cup and building massively for next season. From my point of view, I've never had so many people wanting to talk to me about Carrera Cup at this stage of the season. I think that's great. It shows no sign of slowing down and we want to be at four cars for 2010.
The big issue after Rob's crash at Snetterton was the turn-round time for Knockhill. We're the team based the furthest from Knockhill, so we had our work cut-out to be ready. But that was what was special for me about the team; everyone in the workshop was involved in some way. Five people put an awful lot of effort into the car to get it done.
We arrived at Knockhill with the Porsches on Tuesday for a test on the Wednesday, knowing that the BMW was in the other transporter going off for the shakedown. Then on Thursday we went into Edinburgh for the BTCC street demo with our local hero Jonny Adam. That was a great event to go to with a local star and he was received very, very well. He flew the Saltire up and down the hill to the gathering of 18,000 spectators. I really, really enjoyed it and it was great for our sponsors. It was also very good exposure for the BTCC and there was a great atmosphere.
Qualifying day at Knockhill went very well. I was happy with the Carrera Cup. Michael got a P3, but we know there was a pole in the car. It took a while to get the time, then suddenly he got the P3 and there was more time in the car. But everything was against him; the traffic, yellow flags and red flags.
Ollie Jackson? What can I say? Yet again the 'Wookie' went very well. Yet again he showed the benefits of working with an engineer. Having an experienced engineer to work with your drivers is definitely very important in the Carrera Cup.
In touring cars we qualified third and fifth. We're the only team to have two cars in the top five and that was great. I think there is a little bit more in Jonny and the same with Rob. They did a really good job and I'm very pleased with the qualifying performance. Our best qualifying position to date was third with Rob at Brands and Jonny equalled that. It set us up really nicely for race day.
In the first Porsche race there was a great drive from Michael. We called the weather right and sent him out on slicks when everyone else was lacking a bit of courage, it would seem. We looked at it and decided to go on slicks as there seemed less chance of it raining again. Ollie went on slicks as well and I really drummed it into them that they had to go cautious for the first few laps and get the heat into the tyres. Then, by mid-race it would come to them.
We did the same two years ago with Michael and Tim Harvey. I'm amazed Tim didn't go for slicks. But we had nothing to lose. The general consensus with Patrick and Michael was that it would be a laugh and was worth a try, so that was it. Ollie also did very well, to finish fifth overall and third in pro-am1.
In the second race, Michael pushed hard to get up from sixth to fourth, but then seemed to lose the edge. I thought he'd get James Sutton for third. Ollie was in the thick of the battling, but I think a little touch had upset the balance of the car. But generally speaking, Ollie's march of recent races has continued. I was also very pleased that we won the 'team of the weekend' award again.
With the BMWs it was a very tough day and not one I really want to think about. I think I'll leave it at roll on Silverstone!