David Bartrum's Blog
1st July 2011
The touring car season went off with a bang at Brands Hatch and Mat Jackson was straight there with podiums and trophies. Mat has been on the podium at every round and he's had three wins. Liam Griffin has had more of a baptism of fire and he's been on a bit of a learning curve. It was a massive task for Liam to take on and he didn't under-estimate the task. He started very strongly in testing and that went very well.
Then he went to the first round and had a bit of bad luck with the back of Rob Collard's car on the warm-up lap and that dented his confidence a bit. But we got to the halfway mark with Liam and sat down and looked at where we are and what we're doing and what he's doing. We've started a summer testing programme and pressed the re-set button and we've now got a plan for what we are going to do over the rest of the season.
Liam is staying for next year and we've got to spend the rest of this year getting him where we want him to be. Mat has been consistently brilliant and he's having a very good season. There is more to come, too, because we haven't had the car dead right yet. We've got it a lot better than the previous owners. They ran them in gas form and hadn't run them with petrol engines. We've dialled out most of the handling issues but we haven't quite got it right yet and we've still got things to do to the car. There is a lot more on the drawing board now, as well.
I think the Focus will get stronger and faster. Having David Potter on the team this year has been fantastic. The legendary David Potter has made quite a few teams and drivers famous over the years. Going right back, he was Tim Harvey's race engineer in 1992 when Tim won the BTCC and he won the title with Will Hoy as well. I've known David for 22 years and to have him on our team is a dream come true for me, because I've always wanted to work with him. He's made a big impact on the team, but the touring car team is strong as usual and the boys work very hard.
It was quite strange doing a race weekend at Croft without the Carrera Cup. I got the benefit of two good weekends where I could do just one and then the other. I deeply enjoyed Croft because I was able to just concentrate on touring cars. They didn't need me, I was just a pest. That's one of the strengths of Motorbase; the teams will work whether I'm there or not. At Croft I could do more with the guests and the sponsors.
Mat was fantastic at Croft. With slicks on the front and wets on the back, he held on to the car with spectacular slides and I thought it was going to get away from him a couple of times. He did a top job.
Croft was probably the best weekend we've ever had in touring car racing. A race win, a spectacular second in the rain and a fifth, which was a solid result and to be second in the championship with Matt Neal just nine points ahead, leading the independents both as team and driver; it's all to play for. Mat is a genuine contender and we just need to do some more work with the car and keep focussed as a team.
There has been a lot of controversy in touring cars this season and certain drivers feel that parity hasn't been achieved and one in particular has been very vocal on that. But I think that TOCA has done a good job and you'll never get absolute parity between different makes of car. The Honda is very strong, but it's not just about their turbo, it's about the overall package. Team Dynamics have been working with that car for three or four years and they've got the handling sorted.
We made the decision to jump to the Ford because we thought that would be the way forward and be a good way to get us from where we were with the BMW to when the new rules come out in 2013, when it is NGTC rules in full. We've done a halfway house by embracing a Super 2000 chassis with an NGTC engine. We couldn't have easily done that with the BMW. Even if we don't run the Focus shell going forwards, the engine can go forward with us in another Ford. We're halfway there and we're halfway there financially as well.