David Bartrum's Blog
Blog up to Thruxton, 27th April 2010
We knew at the end of last year that we were going to have a big Porsche team. We'd got Ollie Jackson coming back, Liam Griffin and Steve Parish, we were hoping to keep Michael Caine, and we were looking to get George Richardson back. Charlie Bateman was the late one, but a very welcome addition. Everyone, except Charlie, ran with us one way or another last year.
We thought we'd get four but we ended up with six. We didn't set out to get six cars, but now we've got it, it's great. They are all good guys and they've all got different goals. Michael is in the middle, leading the way. It seems to be a very well-balanced team.
But we needed another truck, more equipment and more tools, not to mention more staff! You suddenly realise that you can't get them all on one flat patch at the same time, so the logistics took on a world of their own.
Tim Hull went back to Carrera Cup from Touring Cars. He'd been number one on Rob Collard's car for a couple of years, but he's a Porsche boy through and through and went back to be chief bolt.
Patrick De Groot has always been with us on Carrera Cup and Marc Giannone was with us in 2008 on touring cars. They both travel from Holland for each race. Most of the lads are back from last year and we've added some really good guys as well, most of them with a really good touring car background. It's a very well put together, experienced crew. Then team manager Mike Pickup has got a bit of Porsche knowledge, allegedly.
We've tried to structure it that, if I'm not there, the team has got someone to turn to and someone to manage the drivers and make sure they are all where they have got to be. Getting six drivers to a briefing is like trying to get hold of an electric eel in a pond.
While it was a very smooth transition to make the Porsche team into a six-car squad, it was totally the opposite with the touring car team. That was still lumping and bumping along, long after the Porsche team was out testing. The touring car situation was a roller coaster for a few weeks and at one point we were seriously considering not competing in the BTCC this year.
We were very sad to lose Rob Collard as he was a big part of what we'd achieved in touring cars. We wish him all the best for the future. But he's now a rival and we know what he's like and how he drives the car. To have Mat Jackson join us is a dream come true. He's one of the best BMW drivers in the UK and I think he's destined for the top, hopefully with Motorbase. Then to get Steven Kane back in the team is very special for me. I'm really, really happy that Steven is back with us; what a dream line up. Now we've got to deliver.
I'm delighted that Leyland Paints is back with us and thanks to all the people there for the support. Their early commitment made a lot of things possible. Then for Airwaves to come back made it a bit of a fairy tale. It all came around in about 24 hours. There was a lot of emotion and Rob going was a big thing for me. But then Airwaves knocked on the door and Mat and Steven came on board.
Our entire pre-season test programme was at the media day at Brands, all six hours of it. We did a shakedown for an hour the week before. We went into the media day with a team that wasn't fully staffed, because I didn't want to leave people without work. So I'd created a problem, because suddenly we were go in all areas. But we were able to add really good people and we've got two massively good teams.
To be honest everyone has worked really hard on both teams switching from one to another when it was required. Tim worked very hard with the Porsche team with Sam, and Sean, while Richard, Rob and Alex did a sterling job with me and Oly for the touring car team. Ants Waller deserves a special mention, because he worked solidly for six weeks in his paint booth, painting cars and panels. You name it; he painted it. Between Thruxton and Rockingham, he did a complete re-work of Steve Parish's Porsche, taking it back to a bare shell. We've also got two superb Engineers in the Pitlane with John & Geoff who I'm sure will have their work cut out this year!
After all of this Barbara is still talking to me. She's had a fair amount on to cope with the ups and downs in the last few months. Her hotel list has nearly doubled, she's been keeping me from getting too carried away and made the finances work which has been a full time job on its own!
Obviously we were at minimal staff when we went to the BTCC test day. Now, everything has settled down and we've got all the guys we need and a very competitive team. But we all need to work very hard on sponsorship for the touring car team, because we've got a lot of empty space on those cars that we need to fill. We have some great guys who have been with the team for years who come in and help us on race weekends and a bit more when they can like, Gary who is great to keep me on the straight and narrow and Stu, Chris, Graham, Jamie, Zach, Richard W, Davey, Slip, little Chris, Aidy, Ash, Tony & Arnie our logitics bods and obviously not forgetting Lance, he makes sure you can't forget him! We also have a few new members in the team who seem to have settled in straight away. Andy has come into help and even brought a brand new all singing Volvo truck with him! Another new member Ewan is helping Jamie on BTCC Data. To keep that lot under control is no mean feat, but I've managed to dust off JB from another winters hibernation to keep an eye on them.
Thruxton was a bit surreal, really. We wandered into Thruxton, feeling as if nothing was ready. It had been a very tough couple of weeks getting ready and it was all coming together for the Porsche team, but it was all a rush with the touring car team. Then, when we got there it just pee'd down with rain and we all got soaked. It just seemed very hard, all weekend.
Then, all of a sudden, the sun came out on Sunday. It was like the man above had looked down on Motorbase and said 'I think I'll let him have a little pressure relief'. It was like someone undid the cap on the top of my head and let out the pressure. When Steven and Mat came home one-two in the third touring car race, and Steven got his first BTCC win, it was a great team effort. Mat did a sterling job as a team driver that day, because he could have made it a lot harder for Steven.
That was great coming off the back of the Carrera Cup results. They'd been on the podium in all classes. If you'd said to me two weeks before that we'd leave Thruxton leading both the BTCC and Carrera Cup team championships, I'd have told you to go and have a very cold bath. So we came out of Thruxton with our tails up, after all that we'd been through.
A lot of people have come on board this year to make a lot of things possible behind the scenes; companies like Scorpion, Pipercross and Spit 'n Polish. There are a lot of people who have done a lot for us to make the cars hit the grid. Leyland Paints are brilliant partners to have on board and then we've got the Money Shop.
George at Geo Graphics does all our stuff and we presented him with two sets of garage backdrop boards, six Porsches, two touring cars and more panels than you could shake a stick at, he kicked up a gear big style. That's before the trucks and the vans. I reckon once the psychiatrist has finished with him, he'll be alright.
Sharon is another busy individual due to all of this. She's the lovely lady who has the task of updating our website with now 8 drivers profiles and plenty of press updates, sponsors and suppliers links and all the photo's for the year from our friend Peter at PSP images. To top all this off, now she has to put my blog on.
I've got say a very big thank you to absolutely everyone who has supported us and made things possible. Every Sponsor, supplier, employee, the Family's of those people who I have worked day & night for the last couple of months and all the well wishing fan's. Without you we just wouldn't be there. It's been quite a start to the 2010 season!