David Bartrum's Blog
27th March 2011
We came out of Brands Hatch last October thinking the winter was going to be a nice quiet time. But within four days I was doing my first presentation to sponsors. Normally you have a down time, but this winter we have not stopped. Barbara and I didn't even get away on holiday. At Christmas we stayed at home and pulled down the shutters. Then we had the now and one day we couldn't even get the workshop door open.
We were always going to be running the new Porsches, which we knew were coming, so we had six Porsches to sell. They needed to be put into a condition ready to sell and we went right through them.
At that point we were going to be running the BMWs again in 2011, so we did some testing with a couple of drivers to give them a run. During that test we were watching the Focus run round with its NGTC petrol engine and thought that it was quick. We went away thinking about that and the next thing I knew I was sitting in Mike Earle's office. I had it in the back of my mind that we needed to do something, but I ended up having a meeting with Dave Mountain of Mountune and we were sitting in my office talking about how we were going to make the BMW go faster. It was very much cost-driven as the NGTC engine is cheaper.
So there I was with the Earle of Littlehampton and we did a deal for the Focuses. So that left me selling eight cars out and bringing nine cars in for the 2011 season. So the winter time became hard work and we then had to get the BMWs ready to sell and we went right through them. Poor old Anthony in the paint department had eight cars to paint by Christmas. The boys went through all the cars mechanically and Tim had all the gearboxes out of the Porsches. We've sold four Porsches to date. One went to Australia, and we then sold one in January to Germany. Then, two Germans came over and bought two more. So that was four gone and we've got two left in the workshop, which are perfectly good cars and need to go.
The two BMWs are deposited and in the meantime the Focuses started to arrive. We had the first one in December and the second one in January. They are two of the three race cars from Team AON last year. We didn't touch them until January, because I wanted to get all the old stuff done from last year. Then we tore into the Focuses and ripped them apart and put them into the colours they now are. Obviously I was trying to sort deals out with sponsors; Airwaves, a new one called Redstone, Leyland Paints, the Money Shop and Addison Lee. Then we were dealing with all our associate sponsors like Scorpion Exhausts, Samco and Geo Graphics; there are so many people involved in getting it all together.
Then you suddenly realise you've got two completely new cars. You've got the Focus, which requires a completely different train of thought with different equipment, different tooling and different spares. There are only three of these cars in the world, so everything is done around individual parts and not a catalogue like BMW and Porsche.
Then we had the new Porsche, which we haven't got yet, but you look in the catalogue and realise that it's a completely different car. It's a lot wider and doesn't fit on the flat patch anymore and does it even fit in the truck? The wheels are different, the tyres are different and it just brings in a whole new challenge.
Then you are dealing with drivers. You go back and talk to the ones that want to stay. Steve Parish, George Richardson and Michael Caine have stayed but unfortunately Ollie Jackson and Charlie Bateman have moved on. Liam Griffin has moved on within the team, so retaining four out of six is not too bad. That opened up the door for new blood and business was brisk on that and we were quite popular. At one point we were talking to seven new Porsche drivers and that whittled down, which is the process that goes on, and we've now got three new drivers coming in.
We've got Daniele Perfetti, an Italian driver, which I think is great and it will be interesting working with him. Then we've got one of our old boys back in Tim Harvey. Old father time has come back. Michael Caine is already in serious training, because he is worried about the buffet, so he wants to be first in.
You do worry about having two strong pro drivers in the team, but I think Carrera Cup this year is going to require something strong, certainly for the teams' championship and you've got some good pairings out there. In the overall championship, this could be the toughest year and we've probably got the strongest pro category we've ever had. There is Harvey, Caine, the two Scholars, Sutton, Meadows and a few others still to be announced. You've got some quick guys in there.
People have said, 'oh, you've got Harvey and Caine, that's it done'. But I don't think it is and I think it is far from done. We've really got to work hard this year. We've got a new car and we're going to have to manage the pair of them and look after a quick young whippersnapper. There could be an upset with the old boys. I think they'll get on, Cainey will moan groan and so will Harvey, but they are team mates and they are going out together whether they like it or not.
We had them together in 2006 and I'm a bit wiser to them now. They are professional enough to know that when one of them can win the championship and the other can't, they will help each other. They'll race each other hard and fair and they'll probably dig each other and have a little moan, but they are a pair of wily old foxes and they know that coming third is better than being second and getting pushed off. We'll see what happens, but I'm looking forward to that.