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David Bartrum's Blog

Post Brands Hatch, 4th May 2010

The build up to Rockingham wasn't too bad, because after Thruxton we had a reasonable gap. We went to Rockingham hoping for no rain and no mud after Thruxton and it turned out really well for us because between the Carrera Cup team and the touring car team we had nine podiums. I was over the moon with nine podiums in one weekend.

In the Porsches, Ollie Jackson started his winning streak, Steve Parish came good and Michael Caine secured his second place a bit more. Obviously securing first place would be even better.

The main thing we needed was to come out of Rockingham with as little damage as possible, because the three-day turn round was a massive factor in how successful we were going to be at Brands Hatch. We had a very pensive panel beater in Ant Waller who was worried what would happen if it all went wrong. It could have been a nightmare.

But the Carrera Cup team was fantastic. They all raced well and there was no damage and I was very pleased with that. Unfortunately the touring car plan fell down a bit. Steven needed a couple of bumpers, which is par for the course on a touring car weekend. But Mat got tangled, or was hit/pushed/shoved/taken out by Tom Chilton in the last race and sustained quite a lot of damage.

A lot of it was mechanical damage, and that's the most expensive part, but it is the easier part to fix as it all bolts on. We had to change bumpers, a wing and a door, and we had those already in stock painted and ready to go. It wasn't as bad as it could have been.

Everyone was quite tired by the time they got to Brands. But the Carrera Cup boys parked up their trucks by 6pm on Wednesday with six cars all ready to go and the touring car boys were ready for a shakedown on Wednesday morning, so it went well. The Carrera Cup boys had put all their garaging up by 4pm on Thursday and the touring cars were all set up by 6pm. By 6.30pm we were all in the Moat Hotel down the road having a team dinner for 20 people. We were all quite pleased with ourselves.

Carrera Cup qualifying at Brands was brilliant. We secured a pole in each class, with Michael Caine, Ollie Jackson and Steve Parish, which has never been done before. George Richardson was very much in the midst of pro-am2, Charlie Bateman was in P6 overall and Liam Griffin went really well in testing but it went wrong a bit in qualifying. I think Liam has come on leaps and bounds the last two meetings and he will do well because he is one determined individual.

There's not one driver in the Carrera Cup team that I'm not impressed with, because they've all got their own battles and they are all dealing with them very, very well. So I was really pleased for the drivers and the boys working on the team. I think they do a really good job and present Motorbase very well in the Carrera Cup. The cars and the team look good and that's very important.

When you are running two teams, you could very easily put all the best people in the touring car team because your ego wants it to be the best, and you could neglect the Carrera Cup team. But I don't do that. I've got two strong teams and I don't think you could get two better sets of guys. They are all very capable people with a lot of experience and we went into Brands leading both the BTCC teams' championship and the Carrera Cup teams' championship. And I want to keep that going.

In touring car qualifying at Brands, we had a more negative result than we expected and the pace wasn't quite there. The drivers were nigh on dead level and you could see on the data that they could both get a bit more time from the car. But I think a lot of it was to do with tyres. They took a lot longer to come up to temperature than we were giving them and the length of the lap at Brands favours the front-wheel drive cars. There is a lot of cooling time for the front-wheel drive cars; we want them to keep the heat in their tyres.

If it was going to rain for race day at Brands, we needed it to rain properly. We didn't want it damp. BMWs don't do damp. The front-wheel drives have the option of mixing tyres by running slicks on the front and wets on the back. That works very well, because they can drag their bum around on the wets.

Race day at Brands was very busy and it was a good and bad day. In Carrera Cup, Michael won the first race, which was great, but we were a bit disappointed that he didn't get another win in the second race. It was great for Ollie Jackson to redeem himself after going off twice in the first race.

There was good and bad for Steve Parish. It was great that he won pro-am2 in the first race, but then he had heavy damage at the start of the second race. George Richardson bashed a gear in the first race, but he went well in the second race. So obviously disappointed on the damage side, but the positives far away outweigh that, with a win and five podiums.

On the touring car front, we had a tough weekend. We struggled on Saturday and couldn't qualify well. Clearly WSR had a better set-up and we always have to gauge ourselves against them as the other BMW team. They qualified fifth, and we qualified nowhere.

The first race was all about survival. I don't blame anyone for any sort of result in that race. The whole idea was just to bring the car home because you shouldn't really race in those conditions. But you do; that's part of the game. They couldn't see a thing as it was a big spray ball. So it was good to get the cars back in one bit.

We worked on the set-up again for the second race. We went two different ways and clearly went the right way with Mat but not with Steven. We improved Steven's car, but not enough and we improved Mat's car massively. Mat really should have won that race. He would have finished P2 but he made a mistake, which he's still beating himself up about. Then, P2 would have become a win as the barbecue gas car was disqualified for being underweight. It's funny how slow they are when they are legal.

I think race three was brilliant. After a weekend that, from the touring car side, hadn't gone according to plan, to go and get a one-three result and nearly a one-two was fantastic. They were both on good used wet tyres and the way that Mat and Steven drove together was brilliant. It was a tough tyre call on the grid and most of the quick front-wheel drive cars were taking slicks on the front and wets on the back. But we stayed on wets, because it wasn't dry enough for us, so we had no choice.

It looked like being a BMW one-two-three because Rob Collard was doing a good job as well. But he looked to have used his tyres a bit harder getting up to where he was. Then Matt Neal came through with a very strong car and he got past Steven. But Mat Jackson had a left rear tyre that was going down and by the time they got to parc ferme it was flat. One more lap and we'd have lost it.

I was over the moon with Airwaves BMW. We kicked up a gear and got the job done. We always want to win every race, but to win the last race of the day is special as that's the one that everyone remembers. You go home on a high and now we are really looking forward to Oulton Park. We thank all our sponsors from Airwaves, Leyland Paints and the Money Shop, and it was great to have Coopers Croydon with us at Brands.

We've got a bit of work to do in the workshop. Steve Parish's car needs a shell and an engine, so that's not particularly good. George Richardson's gearbox needs a rebuild, but luckily we've got a bit of time.

David Bartrum