By: Pat Cranham, BTCC Correspondent
Despite the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship only being midway through its summer break the series and teams continue to progress and move forward. During this article you will learn the latest goings on in the BTCC during the summer break ahead of the series return.
We start off at Motorbase, known as Airwaves Racing, as they recently tested their Ford Focus at Brands Hatch with lead driver and second in the points, Mat Jackson, The team tested new components as well as testing Porsche Cup driver George Richardson and former driver Jonny Adam, which will perhaps lead to Adam being out in a third car for the remainder of the season.
Motorbase bought, at the end of last season, all three of Team Aon’s Focus’, including the one which they never entered. As for Adam, he was widely regarded as the best driver outside the BTCC for many years as he won the Clio Cup and twice became Seat Champion before finally hitting the big-time with Motorbase in a BMW.
Adam started the 2009 season fantastically winning on the road during his debut meeting at Brands Hatch, although he was later demoted to second for contact with Jason Plato. He would show fantastic pace during the year but would only get on the podium again at Oulton. Adam is currently driving an Aston Martin in the British GT championship but speaking to the website touringcartimes.com, who also voted him best Touring Car rookie in 2009, he admitted that returning to the series is the aim.
"I've kept in contact with Dave, it was like walking back to a few years ago, the same people are there but they've moved on so much. Obviously they've moved on car wise, with the Focus this year, but the team is so much stronger. Today was just a test trying some bits and pieces that the guys have been working on since the break from Croft. We're kind of speaking at the moment but it all boils down to 1. the finance to do it but there's a spares package on top of that, because obviously to run three cars is a lot more difficult than running two. I'd love to rejoin Motorbase, because it's a great team and a great bunch of boys, and also I really enjoyed the Focus, it's very much back where I came from really from the front-wheel drive situation in the SEAT and Clio championships."
Airwaves Racing team boss Dave Bartrum also admitted that he would like to get Adam back in the car and said, “Would we like to get Jonny in the car? Yes we would. But these things are difficult to achieve, so it’s work in progress.”
I’ve got a huge amount to learn and the last thing you do is underestimate your competition.
Also present at the same test was AmD Miltek who were giving 2007 Clio Cup champion Martin Byford his first taste of the VW Golf after he was announced as driver for the remainder of 2011. Speaking after his first taste of the Golf Byford said, “We only completed four 30-minute stints, but we’ve had a good day. I used my first session to find my feet in the car. We then worked on set-ups and by the end of the day I felt comfortable. It’s not hugely different to what I’m used to and I think we’ve made some good progress. We had a good little program to work through and, from now on it’s just a case of watching the time tick away before the next round.”
Finally Byford went on to speak about his expectations for Snetterton and said, “As far as Snetterton’s concerned, I need to get three good races under my belt. Scoring points is obviously the long-term goal, but I’ve got a huge amount to learn and the last thing you do is underestimate your competition.”
Also hoping to make a return to the grid is Geoff Steel Racing with their ex Motorbase BMW after running reigning Clio Cup champion Dave Newsham at Brands Hatch and Donington before his switch to Special Tuning Racing. At Snetterton they hope to run one of their BMW’s while the other one is currently being fitted with a Turbo powered NGTC engine with which they hope to run for the last two meetings of the year.
Speaking about the development of the Turbo engine team manager and former BTCC racer Martyn Bell said, “Development of the turbocharged BMW is well underway and we’re still on schedule. When we took delivery of the ex-Motorbase cars we had a plan and we’ve only deviated from that by missing three rounds of the championship. We had hoped to run a naturally aspirated BMW throughout the season until the NGTC-engined car was ready. We’ve been working closely with series organiser TOCA and the advice and support we’ve received has been brilliant. It has been like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole, but we almost have the NGTC engine fitted and I think we’re about two-weeks from taking the car out on track.”
Bell finished off by saying no deal was yet in place for any drivers although negotiations with a couple of drivers are in an advanced stage and said, “We’re not ready to name our driver because we’re still in strong negotiations with two candidates, but we’d like to hear from other people who are interested until a deal is done.”
So that concludes all the latest goings on in the series. The BTCC will make a welcome return to the newly developed Snetterton circuit in three weeks over the weekend of the 6th and 7th of August. So for any news prior to the event as well as a full preview of the event stay tuned to Motorsport.com for all your BTCC news.