Last week saw the Motorbase team head up to Norfolk to take part in the Official BTCC tyre test.

A strong two days of testing saw driver Rory Butcher set the fastest time of the test (1:56.504s).

We caught up with Team Manager Oly Collins and all three drivers to review the test and to look forward to the start of the 2020 season.

Team Manager Oly Collins:

You recently topped the times at the 2 day tyre test at Snetterton. How pleased are you with how the test went? 

The test was brilliant. We’ve done a few days testing since lockdown began but we’ve been on our own, so you don’t fully know your pace. So having the last two days to go through our test program has been really good. Rory was happy with the car straight out of the box on Tuesday morning, so while it was dry we decided to see what kind of time we could put in and it was good. We don’t know what our competitors were doing with weight and boost, but we were happy with what we did across the three cars.

Was it beneficial to get some wet weather testing in as well? 

Its good to test in all conditions, don’t get me wrong we all prefer the stability of dry running but this is the BRITISH Touring Car Championship we have to be prepared for wet running. We learnt a couple of valuable things about the car in the wet conditions and all 3 drivers enjoyed the car in the wet as well as the dry.

How do you feel the new car compares to last season’s car?

It seems to be a positive in all areas. The improvements are all small ones in every area and it all adds up. From early testing it seems to have given us a car which could be good in particular conditions. The new car seems more consistent in any condition. Its still very early days with the new car and we’re still learning, which is why these test days are probably more important to us than maybe some of our competition who have a year or two under their belts with their cars.

Was that the final test before the start of the season or do you have any further plans for testing before the Donington round? 

I think so, we’ve looked at a couple of options but I think after the 4 or 5 days testing we’ve done recently plus what we already did in March, I think we will benefit a little more from a good period of time to go through what we’ve learnt from both a pace and operational perspective. We now need to turn up to round one in a good position in all areas.

Looking forward to the season ahead. There has been encouraging pace in testing.  What are your hopes for the season ahead? 

We’re a race team, we’re here to win. The BTCC offers a format where you can compete with the Manufacturer Teams so there is no reason at all why we shouldn’t be confident to win. That said its a hugely competitive series with some great teams and drivers, so its tough. We’re up against Manufacturers in Toyota, Honda and BMW all who have at least a years experience of their machinery. Motorbase as a Team has put a lot of time, money and hard work into designing, building and developing the new car. Pre season testing has gone very well and the pace looks good. We’ve got some very good people throughout our team and we’re confident that 2020 can be the year we get to prove that.

Rory Butcher

You recently topped the times at the 2 day tyre test at Snetterton. How pleased are you with how the test went? 

Snetterton went really well despite only getting a half day of dry running as we had a lot of things we wanted to try. The car has a great feeling in both conditions so I’m really pleased with its performance.

Was it beneficial to get some wet weather testing in as well? 

With the Snetterton event being moved to October the wet weather running was actually very beneficial. I was able to learn where the grip is and isn’t on the track and also learn what works with the car too.

How do you feel the new car compares to last motorbase Focus you drove?

The new car is a big step forward on the older Ford Focus RS. Mainly in terms of drive ability. Wherever we go the car seems to be in the window or very close to it and only requires little set up changes to find the sweet spot.

Looking forward to the season ahead. There has been encouraging pace in testing.  What are your hopes for the season ahead? 

Both the team’s and my own aspirations are to pose a real challenge this year and we have real intent going into round 1. We face a gruelling compact season with many challenges ahead, so we first need to keep focussed on doing our jobs the very best we can and give our pest performance.

Ollie Jackson

How pleased are you with how the Snetterton test went? 

Yeah really well, particularly the first day. We found a really good balance and it was good to mix the wet and dry. The second day wasn’t quite as useful but we still learnt a lot and have found a few more questions to answer

Was it beneficial to get some wet weather testing in as well? 

Yes it was good to get some running time in the wet, the car seems to be really strong and it’ll definitely pay off with the timing of the season this year

How do you feel the new car compares to last season’s car?

The new car is great, it seems to be a lot easier to find a setup, the changes are a lot more powerful and intuitive and the car gives great feedback behind the wheel

Looking forward to the season ahead. There has been encouraging pace in testing.  What are your hopes for the season ahead? 

I think we’ve got to be challenging for the independents this year, that would be a great achievement. Personally I’d love to bag my first win and a few more podiums this year and I think the new car will give me the best opportunity.

Andy Neate

How do you feel the test at Snetterton went?

After some teething problems with my new car we’re resolved, the test was quite productive. The track was changing every lap due to the relentless rain so this made it almost impossible to compare lap times unless you was on the track at the same time as another car. However we continued to tune a baseline setup we have been working on and then followed this up by comparing the setup with what my team mates had been working on. Collectively there has been a lot of data collected and I’m sure everything assessed will put the team in a strong starting position come Donington.

Was it beneficial to get some wet weather testing in as well?

Definitely, due to the revised BTCC calendar moving much of the racing into the late autumn, we are guaranteed to have some wet weather racing this season. Considering im very green to any type of racing for over 8 years, both wet and dry practice will certainly be beneficial for me.

What are your thoughts on the new Focus ST?

The engineers that have designed the car have really maximised on the advancements from the older Ford Focus. The baseline car in terms of both general stiffness and aero is a far stronger starting platform from what I can see.

How does it compare to last seasons car that your drove at the beginning of the year?

There is no doubt the old car could be quick on its day, but I think it was very much track and weather condition dependant. From the limited running I have had in both cars I would say new car will suit any eventuality unlike the old model. But just to drive, the new car a massive step forwards, and whilst it is true my 2020 ambitions are not for championship glory, if I were the other championship contenders I’d be very concerned about my team mate Rory Butcher as I have no doubt he’ll be in contention for the big prize come the last race at Brands in November!

What are your hopes for the season ahead?

As I said, clearly I’ve been out of the BTCC and any full-time racing for nearly a decade, so I need to be realistic with my hopes and expectations for 2020. However I do have strong targets and hopes, but I’ll let you know if I achieved them at the end of the season and not before.

The team are in action when the 2020 BTCC season gets underway at Donington Park on the weekend of the 1st August.