David Bartrum's Blog
6th September 2014
We had the mid-season break and we were looking forward to getting back into touring cars at Snetterton. It didn't feel like much of a break because we'd been busy with everything else and we had a rather damaged Aston Martin back at the workshops.
We went to Snetterton with good hopes and we actually got what we wanted. We had Mat on the podium with a second place and good pace in the car. We should have had a third place as well but unfortunately Mr Giovanardi made a little mistake three corners from the end and caught the grass and ended up losing his third place. He'd driven a really good race until then.
So Snetterton was a really good weekend and underlined the work we had done to move the car on. We stayed for a Dunlop tyre test on the Tuesday after the race and it was a good opportunity to use the track. We needed the time as we'd done no testing since the season started. The boys worked on something we had found and it was underlined at Knockhill.
Last year we went very well at Snetterton, and then went to Knockhill and nothing, it didn't happen. This year, we went to Snetterton and did well then went to Knockhill and won the race.
Knockhill was great. Mat was P4 in the first race, P1 in the second race and Fabrizio was scoring good points as well. We didn't have such a good third race and Mat got tangled up with the incident between Jason Plato and Rob Austin and punctured the intercooler and we lost our boost. We kept him out there because we were in the points so we thought we'd keep circulating as it wasn't hurting the car. Unfortunately we fell out of the points' window to 17th, but Mat kept his 100% finishing record up for this season. Knockhill was a good weekend and it was very nice to come out of there thinking we'd turned a corner.
Then we came back and loaded the trucks to head for our home circuit of Brands Hatch for British GT. It was all of two and a half miles and Timmy Hull wanted overnight money for driving the truck! We went with expectations of doing well at our home circuit and had an excellent weekend. We qualified third and fourth, which was good. Ahmad was back in the car after a very large shunt at Spa: he'd only done an hour in the car the week before Brands. Ahmad put a stonking qualifying lap in, along with Jeff Smith in their session. Then the pros did their bit and it set us up really well for the race.
The race went very well and the boys were all on the money with the pit stop. I was happy as Larry to get second and third. We're still carrying the 75kg. We made one little mistake, which was my fault: we left Ahmad out too long as we left him in clear air thinking he'd be able to do the times. But it allowed Phil Keen to get onto new tyres earlier and Phil did three laps on new tyres while Ahmad was still on the old ones.
The Porsche has had some breaks from the ‘balance of performance' and that has made it a hard car to fight against. Phil is a very quick driver. We were trying to keep the car as light as possible on fuel load and driver weight to offset the 75kg penalty. Because once we stopped, we put fuel in and took Ahmad out, who is a very light driver, and put in Michael who is heavier: not that he is overweight.
Jeff and Rory did a really good stop. Eventually the other Porsche caught up, with Nick Tandy driving it. They had a bit of luck with a safety car and Mr Ashburn needed that, bless him. I think he was breathing rather heavily. I'm a Nick Tandy fan and I don't mean that with any disrespect to my drivers.
I think Nick's pressure maybe encouraged Phil Keen to push the car harder and that might have led to the puncture. It certainly helped us as we got both cars on the podium and Rory was catching Michael very quickly at the finish. Rory wasn't going to pass Michael and that was Rory's decision as he's a team player. He did an excellent job and so did Jeff. I've been really impressed with Jeff.
Jeff's not with us for the final round at Donington as he'd already got a holiday booked, so I'm very glad that Liam Griffin is back in. As a GT team, we've obviously done something right this year as I'm getting a lot of phone calls about both the UK and Europe next year.
We now go into the last round at Donington and we've got a chance of the team trophy. We're third in the drivers' championship, but it's not ours to win, it is their's to lose. We've got 75kg and a 15s longer pit-stop. We've got to win the race with them no higher than seventh. It's a lot to ask. This is our third season back in British GT and every year we've gone to the final round with a shot at the title.