5 October 2009
Q&A: Mike Nicholson
The 2009 BTCC season finale marked the end of an era for Vauxhall, as the Luton-based manufacturer contested its final meeting in the series.
Following the final round of the year, Crash.net spoke to Vauxhall's Mike Nicholson as the curtain came down on the VX Racing programme...
The end of an era for Vauxhall Mike. You couldn't quite wrap up the drivers title, but two more trophies for the team.
Yeah, the Manufacturers'/Constructors' title and the Teams' title which is good. The problem is that a lot of people only remember who won the Drivers' crown and we'd have loved to have had a clean sweep. We came close and it was a fantastic final race that could have gone one of three ways.
As it happens, Colin won it and deservedly so as he has driven brilliantly this year and has really matured. He has been more defensive when he needed to be, has attacked when he needed to and like all champions, you have some luck on your side. When Fabrizio won the title last season, he had the rub of the green sometimes and Colin had it this year and when that starts to happen, it usually means it will be their title. I know we came close to it, but I thought it was Colin's from about three meetings ago.
The big battle in recent years has been with SEAT, but without them here this season, it's arguably been even tougher…
The Vectra is quite an old car now and is at the end of its development so we haven't made the step forward that others have. We've struggled to an extent and have had to rely on the talent of the drivers to pull out the wins and the podiums. Don't misunderstand me, the Vectra is still a good car but the BMW was always going to be strong and there are others as well – like the Chevrolet, which is very strong. It is a very competitive championship and will continue to be so next year.
Is it quite an emotional moment watching the guys pack up for the final time?
No yet it isn't. It's been a busy and stressful day but after the party and driving back from the circuit it will be.
It was 1989 when Vauxhall came into the series to start the run that ends today. How much has Vauxhall benefitted from its time in the BTCC?
There is little doubt that this championship has done wonders for Vauxhall and I think Vauxhall has done wonders for the championship. We have supported it through thick and thin and right now, we have a fantastic VXR range and they need the backing of a race series. The BTCC has put VXR on the map, they are a fantastic range of cars and the people who are enthusiastic about motorsport are the kind of people who get enthusiastic about the VXR range. But the economics dictate that we can't come back next year but fingers crossed, you never know, for 2011 we might come back. I'm not saying that from any inside knowledge but I'm just keeping my fingers crossed – especially for the team.
Over 20 years there have been hundreds of drivers and numerous top quality drivers, but what would be your abiding memory of Vauxhall's time in the BTCC?
Oh my god, its very hard! There are a lot of memories but I think its fair to say that the year we started to run the Astra Coupe – which was born to be a racing car – was good.
After the previous Vectra wasn't the most successful car, we came in with this new model, which just won everything and we had some fantastic drivers in the team. That year is probably the most enjoyable. To be really dominant was fantastic.
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