Motorbase Performance team boss David Bartrum has admitted that the current economic situation has led to a difficult off-season as teams and drivers seek to put budgets in place for the 2009 HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship.
Despite being forced to cut its budget for 2008 after a potential sponsorship deal hit the rocks, Motorbase emerged as one of the top teams of the 50th anniversary BTCC season, with Steven Kane and Rob Collard ensuring that the BMW team was only outscored by the Vauxhall and SEAT works teams during the second half of the year.
Kane has already said that he feels Motorbase could be in a position to challenge for the crown next season but Bartrum admitted that the 'credit crunch' wasn't making it easy to finalise his team's plans – which could see a possible expansion to three cars if funds are available.
"It's very difficult for team and driver," he told Crash.net
in a recently recorded interview. "You can't fail to see what is happening around you and it isn't a good time for money full-stop. Motor sport is a hobby for a lot of people or a business luxury that people can use as a business tool. When times are hard, people don't spend the money but we have to look at it and hope that there are people who look at it the other way and say 'Things are tight but we want to push ourselves and be noticed – and we want to do it through motor sport'.
"It will be hard for all teams, big or small. The main teams will stay and hopefully some new teams will come in. Arena has already announced what they will do and I think they will be a great addition to the BTCC and will replace SEAT. You hear of Clyde Valley Racing and a couple of others who say they will come in and I hope they do. There will be natural wastage in these situations but things will move on and I think there will be a decent sized grid. Touring cars will come through it okay."
Bartrum has already said he would be keen to retain the services of both Kane and Collard for 2009, but a post-season test at Brands Hatch has also thrown two other names into the mix after double SEAT Cupra Championship title winner Jonathan Adam and SEAT Eurocup runner James Nash impressed when given the chance to sample the BMW 320si.
"We came away from that test with some good ideas for drivers," he said. "James settled in very quickly. He came along on his own after one meeting I had with him and his father and I offered to test him. He sat down in the briefing with the engineers and Steven, went out in the car and did exactly what was asked of him. I think he came across very well and is a star of the future.
"Jonathan Adam is definitely
a star of the future. There isn't a lot of work needed there to make him into a top class touring car driver and that is something we would like to try and do if the money permits. That is the big thing at the moment, as its all about budgets and that is the same for every team and driver. It's not a good time to be looking.
"I'd like to know myself [who the drivers will be]. Obviously we would like to keep Steven and Rob and add someone to that. If we had four drivers we could run because the finances were in place, what a problem to have that would be! We'd like to run two cars certainly and I have said before that I would run a third car if the money was there.
"As long as we run competitively and keep moving forwards, then that is what I want to do. I want to run two or three cars but the reality check says we need to make sure we have two on the grid at the moment."