BTCC driver John George looked back on a 2009 season he describes as “easily my worst season to date”.
The Cornishman, who has competed in the series since 2004 and currently drives for TH Motorsport finished the season without scoring a point, but George knows why he and the team struggled so much.
“There were two reasons: a lack of preparation and funding,” he says. “We collected the car on the Thursday and ran it at the season launch on the Tuesday – a real last gasp to keep in the series.” “Our budget was set right at the beginning. We had to work strictly to that figure or not compete. This compromised every thing we did and every time we ran.”
“We couldn't afford panel damage. We didn't have the replacement parts and so at the end of the season I had to be very careful. I couldn't push to the edge because chucking it off could end the weekend.”
George's fortunes off the track were also causing him concern. The independent mobile phone company he heads, JAG communications, was struggling in the economic downturn, with company also sponsoring George's Honda Integra complicating matters and sent ripples into his racing.
“By the last two events we were really just making up the numbers,” George admits.
But there are glimmers of hope at the end of the year, he and JAG are back in the black, and there are no signs that the 48-year-old ending his time in the BTCC.
“I remember at Oulton Park in May, after pulling off onto the grass, being at the far side of the circuit and signing autographs and having my picture taken with people,” George told btcc.net, the series' official website.
“Anyway, a chap comes over and asks 'What happened?' So I tell him but say 'Never mind, I don't think any one will miss me out there.' The guy looks all hurt and says 'John, me and my family will miss you – we travelled 200 miles to support you today.'”
George continued, finding more silver linings to the clouds that so frequently blighted his season.
“One thing I haven't been able to do in years is watch a race but on the out lap for the last race of the season my car failed again so I thought why not? What great value! I was stunned at what a spectacle the BTCC is from the spectator's point of view. Sure, the action at the front with the title at stake was stunning, but it was like that all the way through the field. That one race alone was worth buying a ticket for!”