Motorbase Performance joined the exclusive 250 British Touring Car Championship races club last weekend at Oulton Park, so we asked team boss David Bartrum what he thought were some of his personal favourites, and about the team’s interesting plans to return to BMW machinery…
The Kent squad passed 250 BTCC races in the second of last weekend’s trio of round four races at Oulton Park, Motorbase having been part of the championship since 2006.
The weekend did not go entirely to plan for Bartrum’s squad on a Sunday afternoon disrupted by a mix of summer and treacherous weather conditions, although Mat Jackson continued his strong start to the 2014 season by backing up seventh place in qualifying with seventh and sixth place finishes in races one and two at the Cheshire circuit.
Team-mate Fabrizio Giovanardi recovered from the lower end of the grid in race three to 10th place for his best result from the weekend, the Italian having been rudely assaulted at the Knickerbrook chicane by Alain Menu in the second encounter of the day.
Bartrum spoke to The Checkered Flag after the weekend, saying: “It wasn’t really the day that I’d liked; I’d have liked to have had the results to go with the 250th race. The way I viewed it, if we could have got the 251st race that Mat was scheduled to go well at then it would have been nice to start the next 250 with a win!”
Bartrum himself thought a win was possible in race three with Jackson starting third on the grid. The Ford driver moved up to second place before an early safety car intervention, but dropped back to an eventual ninth after a lurid sideways moment coming through Cascades on the restart while chasing eventual winner, Aron Smith.
“I thought Mat could have won”, Bartum added. “I thought, if he gets one of them at the first corner, then we would have beat Aron. It’s done now though.”
A look back at Motorbase’s 250…
A household name on the TOCA support package, Motorbase Performance added the BTCC to their schedule in 2006, competing then with an ex-Team Dynamics Honda Integra Type-R purchased and driven by David Pinkney to 13th place in the championship standings. The season was a learning curve, but a sensational charge to fourth from Pinkney at Thruxton and a maiden podium finish at Knockhill were the team’s rewards.
Bartrum commented on his time in the BTCC and pondered where the time had disappeared, saying: “It’s been an emotional ride shall we say.
“250 races – I don’t know where they’ve gone! I remember getting the 100th here at Oulton Park outside the very same garage in 2009 we’ve had this weekend.”
After a tricky 2007 campaign fielding two SEAT Toledos that was littered with problems and bad luck , Bartrum eventually acquired a pair of ex-Schnitzer BMW 320si E90s from the World Touring Car Championship squad after a spot of haggling with Schnitzer team boss, Charly Lamm.
Rob Collard and Steven Kane were the drivers snapped up to drive the machines for the 2008 season, a campaign Bartrum still feels pride from having effectively run the team himself as Motorbase went on to to claim three podiums, two for Collard and one for Kane.
“One of my favourite pride milestones was when we first bought the BMWs from Schnitzer in 2008, even if Steven ended up in the wall at Brands! Mainly because I was running the team on my own.”
Collard was joined by Renault UK Clio Cup and SEAT Cupra champion Jonathan Adam for the 2009 season, and Collard duly brought Motorbase their first two victories at Brands Hatch and Donington as the team finished fourth in the Teams’ Championship.
One of Bartrum’s personal favourite wins came in 2010 however, when Steven Kane lead home Mat Jackson in a one-two finish for the squad at Thruxton.
“My favourite race…I ‘d say one of my favourites was Thruxton 2010 – Mat and Steven Kane with a one-two”.
A former SEAT Cupra racer for the team, Jackson has won eight races with Bartrum’s BTCC team and proved one of his most valuable assets, claiming a proud victory in 2012 at Silverstone from the back of the field in the team’s in-house-built NGTC Ford Focus.
“The race for pride would definitely be the one when we wheeled out the touring car we built in-house at Snetterton in 2012”, Bartrum added.
“That would have been one of my favourite races because of the pride coming with it to build a car, present it, turn up with it and it to then run faultlessly and get three finishes.
“I thought, that was pretty good. Silverstone 2012, with the win was just as good too, because that rewarded all the hard work.”
…and a future potentially with BMW once again
The biggest news Bartrum brought to the paddock however was the team’s intentions to return to BMW machinery for the future, potentially with a BMW 3-Series as early as next season.
“We’re evaluating it”, he hinted to The Checkered Flag. “But we won’t drop the Fords.
“We’ve got this third license situation where we can have a third car, and we could either keep plodding along with three Focuses or think ‘do we start to open up other avenues’.
“With that license we can add a cheeky little third car – a different car – and if we just drop our neck in it then we’ll see how it goes.”
The team currently run a pair of Airwaves Racing Ford Focuses and assist a satellite entry for Jack Clarke under the Crabbie’s Racing team banner, but Bartrum assessed that he would be more than happy to push forward with plans to return to the team’s BMW roots.
“We’ve got a shell; we’ve been thinking about it for a while and I quite like the 3-Series. I think it’s the right car for a BMW.
“I like Beemers as they have been good to me and I’ve been good to them, and I think next year, if we’ve got the time, we may even build three.
“At the end of the day there’s no point plugging away with three Fords and I can turn one into a spares package quite easily. That’s the joys of NGTC, that you can build a car easily with what stock is in the paddock.”