News 2012: Oly Collins end of season interview Nov 2012
The 2012 British Touring Car Championship season was a mix of highs and lows for the Motorbase Performance team which saw the Kent based squad enter a new era as a constructor after unveiling its in-house built NGTC Ford Focus ST midway through the season.
In the fifth of a short series of interviews, we catch up with Team Manager Oly Collins as he takes a look back at his 2012 season and discusses the team's plans and hopes for 2013.
MP: On reflection, how do you feel about the team's performance during the 2012 BTCC season?
OC: "The team, as usual, have been amazing. It's been a strange season. Round 1 seems so long ago now and the approach then was so different to how we ended the season. We knew the S2000 cars would be compromised at some point during 2012 but we hoped it would come later than it did. I have to say full credit to those with NGTC machinery; they got to grips with their cars earlier than we hoped which changed our approach over the summer break.
"The aim was to hit the ground running with a car we knew, round 1 at Brands was very disappointing, but Donington and Thruxton were much better and much closer to where we thought we would be. We then had some tough rounds at Oulton and Croft which then resulted in the change for Mat going into the NGTC car for the remainder of the season; which, fundamentally, became a very public test programme which thankfully went very well!
"Balancing that with further developing with the S2000 was difficult because Mat was no longer involved in that as much. Aron however, showed how hard we were still working and his second half was outstanding. Liam on the other hand had an extremely disjointed season with a big accident at Croft through no fault of his own and meant he sat out for the next 3 rounds, enabling us to concentrate on the NGTC car."
OC: "TOCA had an extremely difficult task again, but very few could argue with how well they managed it. I don't think parity between S2000 FWD & NGTC worked in the dry, but it was never going to with the different tyre sizes. The boost however was far better managed than ever before. Keeping parity with Turbos is so difficult because of the performance of the base engines.
"However, the people who complained the most about boost won everything so I don't think there was too much to argue with in the end! Full credit goes to Dynamics & Pirtek for a job well done with the best cars of 2012."
MP: What would you say were the stand out moments of the season for you....both good and bad?
OC: "There are so many. Individually, I'll start with the highs. Mat's performances with wins at Donington, Thruxton and Silverstone were fantastic results for the whole team, as were Aron's first Podium at Silverstone and then his win at Brands. It was so great to see him getting what he deserved. Liam's qualifying at Thruxton in P9 and his back of the grid to 8th at Oulton were equally as rewarding for us which kind of goes un-noticed to outsiders as what he achieved.
"There were some lows as well obviously. Liam's 3 big accidents were tough, 2 in very difficult conditions at Thruxton and Oulton both off the back of two great performances and the 3rd at Croft which wasn't his fault. The one at Croft resulted in a big change to our season.
"Mats race 3 off at Brands which caused such mayhem was hugely disappointing, I still believe a win was on the cards and Aron was the victim of others errors first half, like Brands, Donington & Oulton. Losing that first NGTC win because of an electrical glitch was really tough but to win race 2 helped ease that pain!
"But, without a doubt the stand out moment was the team's hard work and determination to build the NGTC car in such a short period without most people knowing; and then seeing everyone's reaction at Snetterton, which was just amazing. I think that was a really outstanding achievement for an independent team to achieve especially as we then won a race with it so early in its life."
MP: This was your fourth year as Team Manager with Motorbase Performance, how has the team changed over that time?
OC: "In some areas it's changed a lot but the core qualities which were here when I arrived have remained. Something I was keen to keep as it works so well. David is a great people person and his character goes right through the team.
"We've obviously improved and developed into a consistent front running team and our image is as strong as anyone out there. I don't think anyone would notice on face value any differences between us, Dynamics, 888 & WSR which when you look at their BTCC history is something we're very proud of and that is down to the guys that work here with an extremely modest budget! We've also grown outside of BTCC with our GT team which has proved extremely successful with a British GT Championship this year.
MP: How much of a challenge was it running the S2000 and NGTC models at the same time this season? What impact did/does it have on the team in regards to spares and budgets etc?
OC: "It was difficult but essential. It's not something I want to do next year but we proved it can be done. We needed to do it for the benefit of 2013. It meant Aron & Liam couldn't use Mat or his engineer to learn throughout the weekend or vice versa. That said I think we proved with wins in the final two rounds with both cars it didn't slow us down too much! The idea of the NGTC car introduction in 2012 was purely to benefit next year's campaign with what we learnt, so the results from the new car were just a bonus."
MP: Do you think 2013 will be the season where Motorbase can really put pressure on the Manufacturer backed teams and challenge for the outright BTCC title?
OC: "I really do. That's why we put so much effort into building the new car early and we've learnt so much in a short amount of time. I don't think anyone expected us to challenge for wins with the new car this year but truth be known we should have won three races with the new car, not just one!
"We will be a serious threat next year assuming our winter goes to plan with funding and development. Ultimately we aim to be a Manufacturer team in the future, but until then we won't change our approach as we can keep winning as an Independent."
MP: Can you confirm any of your plans for 2013 as yet, in regards to the cars and drivers?
OC: We plan to run a minimum of two NGTC cars next season. Who knows what else can happen between now and March...there are a few months left before the first round but I'm sure it will fly past!