Motorbase Performance Team Principal Dave Bartrum says it takes “a bit of recovery” to get back into the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC), with the Kent-based team returning to the championship at Snetterton after half a year out.
Motorbase enter their tenth season in the BTCC as a late entry, having been forced to take a sabbatical in the first half of the season following the loss of former title sponsor Airwaves.
Undeterred, the team have continued to work on the engine in their Ford Focus race cars, working closely to develop the unit in conjunction with tuning specialists Mountune.
Despite having been out of the series for ten months, Bartrum was relaxed about the team’s prospects going into the second half of the season.
“The situation at the moment is to just get the new engine to run in some mileage and to get settled back into the championship,” said Bartrum to TouringCars.Net. “We need to see where we are; look, learn, listen and progress and obviously to stay here.
“[Leaving the BTCC] was a commercial decision due to money. We worked with two companies for a long time and it didn’t come together – it happens every now and then. When that sort of thing stops it takes a bit of recovery – look at West Surrey Racing with RAC or with eBay; they’ve had to do the same. It gives you a bit of a commercial lesson. Unfortunately it didn’t come right so we had to make the practical decision, the commercial decision, to sit it out.”
Bartrum revealed that one of the reasons for coming back to the grid in 2015 related to the new engine in the team’s cars, which is a candidate for replacing the Swindon Engines unit as the official TOCA engine supplier.
“We’ve spent a lot of money developing our new engine program in conjunction with Mountune as our partner, and the engine is very good,” added Bartrum. “We need to prove it, because that engine is one of the engines which is up for being the TOCA engine, which there is no decision on yet. We needed to get back on track to see where we were, with the car, the engine and move forward.”
During their time away from the BTCC paddock, Motorbase Performance have been involved in GT racing programmes, including a second season in the Blancpain Endurance Series in 2015.
Whilst Batrum says he has enjoyed his time at the international circuits, he remained full of praise for the TOCA package, having been away from the paddock for so long.
“If you go away from the TOCA package you realise how good it really is, how good the people are in the championship and how it’s run so well. That’s another little lesson I learned – I went off into my GT world, which I really love, but in the same breath we’re a business so if you can do both then it’s great, and I realised how good the TOCA package is.
“I promised Alan [Gow] I would try and get back for the second half of the season, and he said ‘don’t try, do’ as Mr Gow would explain in his very forthright Australian way. I like the honesty of the way the championship is run and the people in the system.
“We’ve been in the BTCC for nine years. It’s a shame that the one time that we didn’t look like we could do it is the time when there’s a licence issue, so that was quite difficult. We never stopped talking to TOCA and working with Alan to find a way that we could get back to the grid, and here we are.
“If you’re not visible you get forgotten very, very quickly. We don’t want to get forgotten – we’re not a forgettable team!”