Motorbase Performance is set to enter a new era in the Kent-based outfit's chequered history this coming weekend as they debut the all new Mountune-powered NGTC Ford Focus at Snetterton for round 6 of the MSA Dunlop British Touring Car Championship (BTCC).
This is a step into new territory for the Kent-based squad, who run under the Redstone Racing banner in the BTCC, and also for driver Mat Jackson who will be behind the wheel for the remaining five rounds - having run turbocharged S2000 models for the past two years.
Team Principal David Bartrum is very open about his reasons for joining the ranks of the NGTC teams in the championship; "I'm extremely proud of what we will be achieving this weekend. We're about to enter a new chapter for Motorbase Performance, one which has taken a lot of hard work and further shows our commitment to the BTCC. We have taken the decision to design and build our own touring car and I now look forward to the development stage of this new project. Clearly the NGTC regulations are working well for the BTCC and we want to be part of that."
David Bartrum's team has celebrated many achievements over the last ten years in the GT's, Porsche Carrera Cup and BTCC however this is the first time Motorbase has built its own car from scratch, although, it's by no means a new venture for many of the squad's members as the Team Boss explains: "Motorbase Performance have never taken on a design and build task before so its new territory for myself, however a lot of the guys who work here are old hands at this kind of project and without them this couldn't have been achieved."
"In fact I've never even owned a new BTCC car before despite being in the championship since 2006. I've always bought good second-hand touring cars and then we've developed them in our own way and grown as a team in that time. Coincidently the first BTCC car we ever competed with was the 2005 Team Dynamics Honda Integra which we bought for the 2006 season. I bought the car through the then Team Dynamics Team Manager Oly Collins which was built and run by their Chief Fabricator and Mechanic Richard Townsend and engineered by Geoff Kingston and David Potter. Now six years on we have designed built in house our own BTCC car. The car has been built by a great team of guys and project managed by our very own Engineer Richard Townsend, it's had a great deal of design work done by another of our engineers Geoff Kingston with further engineering input by another of our engineers David Potter. It just so happens that it's also been over seen by our very own Team Manager Oly Collins."
With a nod to current BTCC champions and rivals Bartrum added: "I always looked at Team Dynamics and liked how they did things. I've known Steve Neal longer than I care to remember, ever since I raced myself against Matt Neal in the Group N Esso Saloon Car Championship. So now I hope to emulate some of their success with some of their staff from their dominant 2005-6 team."
With Jackson and Smith's Redstone Racing team-mate Liam Griffin taking a short sabbatical from the BTCC, the team have been able to focus their attention on the build during the mid-season break.
Bartrum is clearly very proud of how much the team have achieved in such a short space of time, commenting; "The guys in the team have been absolutely amazing this last seven weeks to get this car built in such a short amount of time and to such a high standard. We're not doing this on a manufacturer budget and therefore it requires a different approach and we have to be a little less orthodox. A big thanks goes to all of our suppliers who have helped greatly with this project. I won't name them as there have been so many but they know who they are. I can't thank the team enough for their effort, skill and determination to achieve this and I just hope for all of our sakes they are rewarded with results as soon as possible."
This weekend is set to be a baptism of fire for the new machine as the NGTC Focus takes to the track for the very first time. With only seven weeks to complete the build since the last round, there's been no opportunity for testing as Bartrum explains: "We haven't had the chance to test the car at all prior to this weekend so it will be very much a test in the public eye. The first few race meetings will be much more about gathering data and an understanding of the new car."
He went on to add; "First and foremost we will be hoping for reliability. We certainly won't be putting any expectation on the car at all. Our competition have had at least six months and half a seasons racing on us so have all ironed out all of their issues. Even 888 managed some running prior to the first round at Brands and achieved an amazing win on their debut, however their competition was relatively new to the product as well, unfortunately we won't have that luxury."
Motorbase plan to build three NGTC Focuses with a view to running two in the 2013 BTCC Championship. Bartrum has also not ruled out building more NGTC machines for other teams in the future commenting; "The idea of doing this project now is very much focused on 2013 and beyond. If someone comes along and wants one, we'll do it."
Round 6 of the BTCC featuring races 16, 17 and 18 take place at Snetterton on Sunday 12th 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 3.15 and 3.45pm.