Motorbase Performance team boss David Bartrum has backed the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship to flourish again in 2010, despite the loss of manufacturer involvement following Vauxhall's withdrawal.
Vauxhall's decision to follow SEAT out of the championship means there are currently no manufacturer teams set to compete in the series this season – although the likes of Vauxhall, BMW, Honda, Ford, Volkswagen and SEAT are set to be represented by Independent teams.
While the loss of the final manufacturer in the series is something of a blow, Bartrum insisted that the series was strong enough to continue flourishing, although he admitted that the impending introduction of new rules for the 2011 season – when the Next Generation Touring Car regulations will come into force – could lead to something of a transitional period.
“I think the BTCC is a very resilient championship,” he said. “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.
“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 things 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 [of Andrew Jordan and Dave Pinkney] as they are the first cars to have it.”
The introduction of the NGTC engine will see series organisers faced with another quandary as to how to try and ensure a level playing field from a performance point of view, and comes after the announcement that rear-wheel drive cars will have to run a spec first gear to reduce their advantage at the start.
While he again admitted that he didn't feel that gear change needed to be made, Bartrum backed series director Gow and his team would get the rules correct.
“That is where Mr Gow is the past master,” he replied when asked how tough it was to maintain a level playing field. “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.