David Bartrum's Blog
BTCC Blog, June 2012
Oulton Park was probably the biggest anti-climax in my touring car career, apart from the SEATs in 2007, which we don't mention. That was the year that never happened.
After Thruxton we had a five-week break and did quite a lot of work on the cars and came up with some new parts, which we tested and they worked very well. We tested at Oulton Park because you can play a joker to test at a track you've not yet raced at. We went up for the race weekend with three cars with all the new parts on, expecting to do very well as the pace was in the car.
But we found that all the drivers had left their brains in doors. I thought the driving standards in the BTCC that weekend were appalling and the championship needs to sort it out. It's all very well reflecting it back on the management of all the teams and saying we've got to keep our drivers under control. I will say that most of the time the Motorbase drivers are not the controversial drivers. We do try and keep our drivers under control, but if the championship doesn't dish out penalties that say 'don't do that', then we can't keep them under control.
Mr Gow has a way of dealing with things that normally comes right, so I hope he will do the same again. I was particularly disappointed with the driving standards and the attitudes of a lot of them as well as some of the preparation I saw.
We had a very frustrating weekend and an extremely large amount of damage. On the Sunday night, every single car sat in the pit lane and looked battle scarred. Our cars looked atrocious. We got back to the workshops at 2.45am on Monday morning and took the cars off the trucks and I looked at them and thought: 'I really haven't got the heart to fix these, if this is what's going to happen.'
But six hours later, at 9.30am on Monday, the whole team came in – they were supposed to come in at mid-day, but behind my back they decided to come in at 9.30am. I came in at 10am expecting to get my paperwork done and the cars were all in bits and each mechanic was flat out. Anthony Waller, our star bodywork man, who was due in hospital six days later for a fairly major operation, turned all those cars around and had the bodywork done by 6pm on Monday night. They all worked like Trojans. Richard Townsend, who does all the damper work as well, was fabricating as fast as he could go, and they were the two key people who made it all happen.
The mechanics, Alex, Shane, Mika and Mark, got stuck into their cars and while that was going on, Tim Hull and Richard Warrington were on the two Porsches. Everything looked brand new again ready for both teams to go out less than a fortnight later. That was quite a feat and it shows how versatile we are, because we kept everything in house. It was a sterling team effort.
We put all the cars back in the trucks on the Wednesday and Thursday, six working days later, ready to go again. I spent the whole weekend with Stuart and George just doing the vinyl work on five cars. Then there were all the spares.
We went through all of our Focus spares. Mat Jackson had a big shunt on the Saturday as well. We had to do 12 doors plus four spares, three bonnets plus two spares, nine new bumpers because they killed all the bumpers, intercoolers, radiators, you name it. It was just atrocious.
Saturday at Croft was unexceptional. It was very mundane: Mat was eighth and we struggled to get that, Aron didn't quite get it together and was 13th and Liam has always struggled at Croft. Aron's not had the luck yet. I've seen this before with drivers we've had in touring cars, but when he gets it right he's going to be one quick little cookie. He's a really nice lad and he's really quick. It's just got to come right for him. I'll update Croft race day next time, but let's say it wasn't a great day for us.
The NGTC cars are obviously gaining speed. There is the boost equivalency system now and that's almost like the turkey voting for Christmas: we voted for it and we've now got it, but it still doesn't work very well. I know that Mr Gow is trying to achieve parity through that system, but it only achieves engine parity. You can't achieve parity with different sized wheels and different sized brakes. As NGTC gets stronger, and it is the future, we're suffering. We can't get what we want from the cars any more. The cars are fast under the right circumstances, but the NGTC cars have got a lot stronger a lot quicker than we thought they would.