Mid-season interview with Airwaves Racing and Motorbase Performance Team Principal David Bartrum
As the Airwaves Racing team gear up for the restart of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship this coming weekend at Snetterton, we catch up with Team Principal David Bartrum and ask him his thoughts on the season so far.
The 2011 BTCC season certainly got off to a great start, how are feeling about the performance of the Airwaves Racing team so far this year?
DB: It’s been a great start to this year’s campaign. To be leading the Independent Drivers & Teams against some very fierce competition is a testament to the whole of the teams hard work and it’s nice for everyone to recognise that. As for Mat, he has been a revelation this year and is very much at home in his little red devil. We started with whole new package this year going from rear wheel drive to front wheel drive and normally aspirated to Turbo, that’s a challenge in anyone’s book but, like normal, we've taken it on and its proven to be the right decision.
The fact remains none of the non-turbo cars have done any development ...
There’s a lot of noise coming from certain teams and drivers in regards to the turbo charged cars on the gird this year, what is your response to their comments?
DB: To be honest it’s getting a little bit boring now. After Jason's display on camera at Oulton Park after finishing 1st! I think it’s gone the wrong way. I would have loved to be in his position in some of the races he's complained about this year. When he got a puncture at Thruxton it was the turbo's fault, had he calmed his driving down he may have finished well in that race and therefore be higher in the Championship. Hasn't he won 4 races this year and that’s with two punctures, some DNF's due to bad luck and a barrel roll. I dread to think how far ahead he would have been had that lot not happened. The fact remains none of the non-turbo cars have done any development this year but they just sit back rest on their laurels and hope the Championship will make it interesting for everyone. Thinking about it I might stop all development from now on and work on my complaining techniques, it would be a lot cheaper!
You had a busy closed season this year, changing over to new cars in the BTCC, what was the main driver for this decision and are you still pleased that you took this route?
DB: Definitely, I have a certain thing for the Ford brand as I have raced them myself and being from this neck of the woods and employing 5 Essex boys in the team it seems to fit. All I need now is some fluffy dice! Seriously though it has turned out to be a good move. I was worried in January as to whether or not I had done the right thing. I loved my BMW's but we just weren’t going to win the Championship with them this year so we needed to change, for our team members, drivers and sponsors. We have a good relationship with Mountune which goes back longer than I care to remind myself of as it tends to tell me how old I am! So all in all I'm enjoying the move so far!
What, if any other changes to the team or set up have you had to make to incorporate the changeover to the Focus?
DB: Generally the core staff have remained the same. We've brought in David Potter who is one of the best engineers in Touring cars who has proved a great asset but it has just helped strengthen what was already a great team with a nice atmosphere. Other than that it’s another race car just like a BMW or a Porsche, the guys adapt very well.
The much talked about third Focus has yet to make an appearance on the 2011 grid, are there any plans for this to come into play before the end of the season?
DB: We've been testing with it and would very much like to see it on the grid helping with our Championship push, but as ever there are hurdles in the way. Mostly financial! We have the 3 cars built in the workshop ready to go but we don't really have the spares package to run 3 at the moment, this is nothing a little investment wouldn't solve. We set out when we bought the cars from Arena to run 3 so we have a lot of the equipment required and some of the more major spares needed like engines and bodywork, it’s more detailed items we have to be mindful of and whatever happens, if and when the 3rd car comes out it can't detract from what is being done with the other two cars already.
With Mat Jackson currently sitting in 2nd place in the Championship 9 points behind Neal, do you think there’s still a chance of claiming the overall title, who do you think will be Mat’s biggest competition?
DB: Most definitely, nine points can be overturned in one race and there are 15 left so a lot can happen between now and the Sunday afternoon at Silverstone in October. The competition this year is more fierce than ever. You have 2 very strong Honda's clearly, not to mention Plato who when he stops looking at everyone else and starts looking at himself will be very strong. The Vauxhalls are very strong this year and we don't under estimate the Arena guys now they've had 7 weeks to work out where they need to improve. You also have some others who will no doubt feature at the front in Boardman and the WSR BMW's. It’s all to play for!
Motorbase Performance are reigning Champions of the Porsche Carrera Cup, but 2011 seemed to get off to a slow start for the team: why?
DB: We are confident now we have found a suitable set up for the car which was proven with improved pace at Oulton Park and then again at the Nurburgring, so I'm looking forward to a second half comeback now! Our team have been working harder than ever so we'll just have to wait and see if we've done enough! We’ve just completed a very successful test at Snetterton in preparation for the upcoming race weekend.
Tim Harvey has been very outspoken about his opinion on the PCC this year, do you support or agree with the points he raises?
DB: Tim has his own reasons for how he feels the Carrera Cup has gone for him this year. He has chosen to give an opportunity to put in Kieran Vernon in his place to continue to carry the sponsor’s name on the car. this is fantastic for Kieran and let’s hope he grabs the opportunity with both hands and gives it a good shot. My job is to look after the welfare and ambitions of 5 drivers in our team and I’m confident that in the second half of the season we will achieve positive results.
The Motorbase team had an amazing result at the Nurburgring coming 13th overall and first of all the GB entries, how important was that win for the team?
DB: It was an outstanding win for the whole team. The team has done a fantastic job in improving the car and understanding the new car for exactly what it is. Tim drove very well too, so it was very important and what I will hope will prove to be the springboard required for the second half of the season. It was also very important for us to see Tim go out on a high from the Porsche Carrera cup and what a way to do it at the Nurburgring.
Round 6 of the BTCC featuring races 16, 17 and 18 take place at Snetterton on Sunday 7th August. Live coverage of Sunday’s events will be shown on ITV4, itv.com and also in HD from 11.00am – 6pm; with www.itv.com/touringcars featuring live streaming online of Saturday’s qualifying session between 3.40 and 4.20pm.
By: Airwaves Racing