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David Bartrum's Blog

4th May 2013

Last season we had one new NGTC Ford Focus and we ran it for four or five rounds for Mat Jackson to try and get some data. We went to half the circuits and we tested very publicly. We learnt a lot, but we didn't learn enough and the end of the season came too soon.

The decision was made to build another car for Aron Smith so we could go completely NGTC and then build a third car as a spare or even a race car, as Michael Caine was a possibility for a BTCC programme at that point. So we went into a hard winter of building the cars and everyone worked very hard all winter. It's a flat out thing to build a car and at the same time we were busy working on the finance side of the project.

That meant talking to sponsors, putting proposals together and going to meetings.  Also I decided to have my knees fixed and move house at the same time. But that's another story.

By the time we got to Christmas, we were in the full swing of building cars. Becoming a constructor puts a lot more strain on a team. We've got a lot of experienced people in the team who can build a car, but it was still a new procedure for the whole team. Everyone did a sterling job and the cars looked excellent. Once we'd done our deal with Airwaves, the car colour was decided. So in January, Ants and Nev in the paint department spent all their time changing the car colour and changing all the spares.

The new cars were prepared in the new colours, including the third car, which no one has seen yet. We didn't think we'd be running any Super 2000 cars so we were getting them ready for sale. But then Liam Griffin decided to come and talk. He'd seen the announcement of the Jack Sears Trophy and quite liked the idea that he wouldn't have to pitch himself directly against Mat and Aron and he could go and have his own race.

So we decided to run Addison Lee Motorbase with Liam's car and if the third NGTC car came out it would go under that banner as well. So we kept one of our Super 2000 cars and repainted it into black to match Liam's colours. In the meantime, we resprayed the two other cars from red into white to make them more attractive to sell. We were approached by David Nye along with John Welch, so we sold one car to them, which left one sitting there. At the end of April David came back and bought that car as well.

The winter was quite long and hard: building cars, painting cars, painting spares, painting trucks, preparing boarding and all the usual things you do.

We got to March 6 and Airwaves wanted us to go around the country on a road show. It started in Reading on the Monday and we presented the car and the team to the offices there. We moved on that night to Plymouth for the next day to the Airwaves factory and sectioned off some of the car park and put the awning up.

We took the show car with Mat and Aron and we launched the whole team properly. We showed the team off to everyone in the factory and did some fundraising for Comic Relief.

We came back on the Wednesday and went testing on Thursday. We then went to North London to Dagenham Motors on Friday and did the full Motorbase team launch with the touring cars and the Porsche. While all the touring car work was going on, there was a Porsche to get ready. We decided to run just one Porsche this year to defend our British GT title and updated the 2012 car to '13 spec, which makes it a completely different car. The update kit makes the car even bigger: before it was 'fat Max' and it was then called 'Maximus'.

Daniele Perfetti and Michael Caine won the championship last year and this year we did a deal with Ahmad Al Harthy, the well-known Carrera Cup driver. He teamed up with Michael to defend the title with number one on the car. So we started testing with that programme as well.

Among all that I decided to get a new trailer, so there were things going on all the time. It was a very, very busy winter and I've never known a winter as busy. But I'm very proud of what we achieved with the cars and how they look.

The pre-season testing was quite difficult for both teams. We planned our testing off the back of the weather and getting NGTC parts and after we finished the week of our road show, we went straight into our test programme. But we literally ran into a wall of freezing weather. You went to circuits and tested if you could and I remember being at Oulton Park in minus three.

With the Porsche that wasn't so bad, because you could get some temperature into the car. But in the touring car you can't get any temperature into the rear wheels on a front-wheel drive car, so pretty much all our touring car testing was pointless: we gained nothing. If we'd have gone testing the week we were on the road show, I think we'd have gained a bit more. The weather was okay and I can remember being at Plymouth in shirt sleeves on 8 March thinking that it was good that the weather had turned. But then we ran straight into a wall of cold and it set us back quite a lot.

Over the winter we created two teams, two new names, got our drivers secured, got our colours organised and our trucks ready to go to the first rounds of both the BTCC and British GT at Easter.

David Bartrum