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David Bartrum, Motorbase – Q&A

2 February 2010

Q:
David, would you say 2009 was the best season yet for Motorbase?

David Bartrum:
Yeah, it was the best season for us. The wins were certainly nice; Rob Collard got the first proper win and Jonny Adam also got a win as far as I am concerned – although that is history now as we know he got demoted to second. It was still a win in my eyes though. It was a good year and definitely our best year in touring cars but I felt we lost it a little bit in the second half of the season and we could have had more from it. So it could have been even better, but it was still satisfying.

Q:
Were you disappointed that what looked like being a title challenge early on failed to materialise?

David Bartrum:
Definately. It was a shame for Rob as he was right in there at the beginning of the year but in the second half of the season we had a few big accidents which were high profile but not his fault. But that happens in touring cars. I wasn't disappointed with the year, but – like every team boss – I always want more.

Q:
For Jonny the season was a bit frustrating as the pace was there throughout the year but it never fell his way when it came to getting a win – Brands Hatch aside.

David Bartrum:
Touring cars are a tough championship and Jonny came in with a lot of expectation on his shoulders. It was year one for him. He had won a lot of championships but had won them in more friendly environments. The BTCC is a tough environment and when you are a one-make racer and come into touring cars it is a totally different situation. You don't have a grid of cars doing the same and different cars perform differently as the racing goes on. He had to relearn his craft to an extent but I felt he did very well.

Q:
You suffered a blow with the loss of the Airwaves backing, so whats the state of play with plans for 2010?

David Bartrum:
It's a shame the Airwaves deal didn't continue but that is the way the world is at the moment. That was a fantastic opportunity for us and helped to raise our profile. We did a good job for them and they did a good job for us. Going forwards, it's tough and like everyone, we are still working to secure our budget. If you look around the BTCC, everyone is working hard but staying positive. We have to keep working to be on the grid.

Q:
You were out testing plenty of drivers at the end of 2009. do you have an idea who you want to run in 2010?

David Bartrum:
We didn't run that many, but you can't let the grass grow and it was only down the road at Brands Hatch! We like to keep busy! We tested some other drivers and I wanted to see what Tim Bridgman could do in a touring car. He was very good. At the time we could have had something going with Andrew Jordan and it wasn't a waste of time for us as he was quick and very good.

Young Alex MacDowall wanted to see what a rear-wheel drive car was like so that was good again and we helped where we could and it was also good to get Ben Collins in the car. The great one for me was having Steven kane back in the car as he was with us in 2008 and it was good to get his feedback on how things had changed and what we'd done with the car since he last drove it. They were useful days and we got useful information from it. Going forwards, we are working on quite a few things at the moment.

Q:
You won't say what those are though will you…

David Bartrum:
I can't because it's not concluded at the moment. I'm confident we'll be there but we have to work on it.

Q:
Steve Neal has said that the series carried a lot of momentum from 2008 into last season but that momentum seems to have dropped off heading to 2010. How do you see the series shaping up this year?

David Bartrum:
I think the BTCC is a very resilient championship. We have lost some key players but hopefully some other people will come along. With manufacturers gone, people need to be a bit more free-thinking about how they get their budgets and tighten their belts. You need to look at what you spend and spend it wisely. It's very difficult as the recession attacks everyone and we need to show we can deliver value and that we can look after commercial partners.

Q:
Do you think this could be a transitional season ahead of the new rules in 2011?

David Bartrum:
There will definitely be a transitional period because when you announce a radical new set of rules like the BTCC has, it will take time to get to where the organisers want it to end up. I think Alan Gow and Peter Riches are looking at it as an ongoing project and nothing is set in stone, they will listen to ideas from people and then make sure the championship grows helpfully and isn't obstructive. There will be a transitional period as things settle down and the big thing this year in the NGTC engine. That looks like it will help with budget if people go to it and we'll have to see what happens with the Vauxhalls as they are the first cars to have it.

Q:
We now have a turbo engine against a normal racing engine to throw something else into the mix and we already have the gearbox changes for rear-wheel drive cars to help your rivals at the start. How tough is it to get a level playing field?

David Bartrum:
That is where Mr Gow is the past master. I'm hoping he will keep a level playing field as it is very important that we don't lose more people. I know he has the new thing in NGTC but for a while we need the old thing as well. From that point of view, they have to try and maintain a level field for everyone.

As for the gear thing, I don't like anything where I have to spend more money as its more money I have to find! I would prefer to have stayed as we were and we'll see how it pans out, but it is very important that they monitor and maintain things to keep it fair and give everyone a chance. History dicates that they will do that.

Q:
That gearbox change though, people will say that it helps at the start of race but at the end of the 2009 season, it was the Chevrolet which appeared to be the car to beat…

David Bartrum:
I don't think we needed to make changes, but it isn't my choice. I think we had a fantastic championship last year and you couldn't have scripted the final race. It was anybodies championship and I think they had it right anyway. I know the BMW has a bit of advantage off the line in peoples eyes but I didn't see it that way as we got off the line quick, but had cold tyres. I felt that over the course of the races, it sorted itself out and was an even playing field by the end.


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