David Bartrum's Blog
3rd August 2013
Running four cars at Croft was a bit of a challenge and then the wife of Mr Collins, our team manager, goes and has baby Eddie. The Collins family grew from three to four on the Wednesday evening just before Croft, so he was unavailable. That just left me with the four cars, but we're used to big number teams from running six Carrera Cup cars and two touring cars.
The team structure was there and everyone got on with their job. The weekend was very hard and the Airwaves cars didn't have a great weekend, but I'm going to talk mainly about Mr Caine and Mr Hill junior. Michael did a stonking job for us. He didn't get too much running, but got enough to prove that the car is very good and gave us some very good data. That triggered in my mind a different way of thinking about where we were with the car. It was a thought provoking weekend.
Young Jake did a fine job. He did what it said on the tin. He wanted to win one Jack Sears Trophy and he went out in race one and got that under his belt. I think he would have had another one in the third race, had Mr Jackson not been at the other end of the three cars that hit him. It was one of those things that happen.
We then went off and did some testing, with the Dunlop test at Snetterton on 8/9 July. Those were two days that were very much needed.
We decided off the back of what Michael had done that we would pursue the GT driver input a bit more. So we brought Nick Tandy in and on Friday 5 July we did a day at Brands Hatch with Nick to get him used to the car. He brought a different way of looking at the car, down a similar track to Michael. We then took Nick to the official BTCC test and divided the work across three cars. Nick was obviously quick and we used the guys from the GT team with him, so Ricky Martino engineered it and that gave them a different angle on what they were doing. By the end of the first day, we had found quite a lot from all the cars.
Each car was running to a set programme. There was distance running, diff work, brake work, qualifying runs: you never get two days at a circuit with decent weather and all the crew there working through things. You need the second day to give you a night's thinking.
At the beginning of day two, Mat and Aron got in Nick's car and we made some more changes and I think we came out of it with a good car. The work that everyone put in was very significant and it took us to the Snetterton race weekend with a different view of the car. We certainly found something in the car that we hadn't found before.
There is a very small window where this car works. You can go testing, like we did, a lot of times, and learn a lot of what the car doesn't do. That list is massive. In the other column there are very few words. You get the car in that window and make a change that is too radical and you are back where you were.
I think it has been said by a couple of the big name drivers in the BTCC: 'It's not a nice car to drive when it's right. When it's not right, it feels nice, but you are not fast.' It's a strange car to get a handle on. I think everyone in the BTCC is doing a good job to be on that grid. All the cars look very good.
Coming into the Snetterton race weekend, Mat and Aron have very clear heads. Liam Griffin had a good day's testing and he was up amongst the back of the NGTC cars, which is very respectable. We went to Snetterton with an open mind and a lot more idea: a plan of what changes we were going to make. At the moment, the third NGTC car is parked as there is no budget to run it. But it is in our plans and it may come out.