David Bartrum's Blog
3rd May 2014
We flew out from Monza on Sunday evening and the truck rolled up late on Monday afternoon, which was quite a quick drive. We pulled the GT car apart and had to leave for Oulton Park on Thursday.
Easter was a very busy weekend for me, but the teams are very well organised. I was at Donington for the BTCC race day on Sunday. So I did Thursday afternoon and Friday morning at Donington, then Friday afternoon and Saturday at Oulton Park for the British GTs. Then it was Donington on Sunday for the BTCC and back to Oulton on Monday for the GT races.
It wasn't too bad for touring cars. Mat did a cracking job with P4 and P7. 'Gio' didn't have such a great time. He showed flashes of brilliance in the first race but had a bit of bad luck in the last race. In the middle race he just didn't have the right set-up. Jack did a really good job even though it was a tough weekend for him. You've got to remember where Jack has come from: he's still learning about touring cars. But he did a really good last race and showed good pace and moved forwards.
Jack has got a realistic aim this year: this is his learning year and he doesn't expect to win races, he just wants to improve. He certainly showed improvement all through the weekend and in the last race he did a really good job and I'm very happy with his progress.
In British GT at Oulton Park we qualified on pole position by half a second with Ahmad and bear in mind we are still carrying 75kg for our exotic driver pairing. We call it our 'Benjamin Franassovici', because is the same weight as our series co-ordinator and is fondly named after him. But that was the whole point of going to the Aston Martin as it is a better car to carry the weight. The weight penalty won't go away and I think we'll struggle more at Rockingham than we did at Oulton.
The nice thing for us was being the best Aston Martin, hotly chased by Jonny Adam and Andrew Howard in the Beechdean car. So we went from pole in the first race and won the race, so we were very, very happy with that. The guys did an excellent job and the team was very good.
Rory did an excellent job in the other car and ran with Michael for most of the race. Rory had been P2 in both free practice sessions. Unfortunately, in qualifying he didn't quite get the right balance on his tyres when the track was clear. The tyres are heated in the oven and he was trying to find a space: when he did find a decent spot to run, the tyres weren't up to full temperature and he took P8.
Michael was P6 for the second race and I think he knew he could have done a better job. But I genuinely thought Rory would get P1 as he was very much up for it. Unfortunately for Rory, his driving partner John Hartshorne was not on the same pace and in the race they dropped back. John's a cracking guy, a real gentleman, but I think British GT has moved on a lot since he last drove in it and there are a lot more driver aids in the car.
In race two, Michael and Ahmad finished P7. Of course, in British GT when you win a race you get an extra 15s on your pit stop, so for the second race at Oulton we went from a 65s mandatory stop to an 80s stop and that 15s is a lot of time to ask a driver to make up.
So I was very, very pleased with the team. We came out of Oulton Park leading the championship for both drivers and team, even if only by one point. The quality of British GT this year is very strong. Ahmad was chased very hard by Andrew Howard in particular and we came away very happy from the weekend.
Next we went to Thruxton BTCC and Rockingham for British GT on the same weekend at the start of May. There was a change in the British GT team as John stood down to try and make the pairings right for Rory and one of our old favourites Liam Griffin has joined the GT team. I'm really happy to have Liam back in the team. Liam will do a good job but just needs a bit of time to understand the car.
We've just had BTCC qualifying at Thruxton and I'm over the moon for Mat with P4. But Andrew Jordan was on another level today: he and Pirtek Racing have done an excellent job and he was the driver to beat. He was two-tenths faster than the next two, which were the other two Hondas. We were the best of the non-Hondas with P4 for the Focus. Just two-tenths would have put 'Gio' sixth instead of P12; that's how tight it is in the BTCC. But I'm certainly not unhappy with Gio's pace and he's getting the car now. He's frustrated that he's not where he wants to be yet. Jack came here with no testing and I'm really pleased with what he did as well.