The Motorbase team head to Por­tu­gal for some warm weather test­ing ahead of the 2017 BTCC sea­son…

Fast Ford - - Fast Fleet - Pics: Matt Sayle

No, it’s not an ex­cuse for a jolly-up in the sun! The warm-weather test pro­gram is a vi­tal part of our race sea­son; suc­cess or fail­ure in th­ese tests can de­ter­mine what kind of year we’re go­ing to have ahead of us. The fact that we choose to do it at the sun-drenched Al­garve In­ter­na­tional Cir­cuit in Por­tu­gal and not a freez­ing-cold and soak­ing-wet Brands Hatch is just an added bonus!

But all jok­ing aside, th­ese warmweather tests are a cru­cial part of our prepa­ra­tions for the 2017 sea­son. And when we’re look­ing to test spe­cific ar­eas of the car’s per­for­mance we need to en­sure re­peat­able, con­sis­tent laps – and that’s just not pos­si­ble with the con­stantly chang­ing cli­mate in the UK through the win­ter months.

Dry-run­ning was even more im­por­tant than usual this year, as one of the main ob­jec­tives of this test was to gain a greater un­der­stand­ing of the new 2017-spec Dun­lop slicks the cars will need to run this year. We also looked at a few sus­pen­sion changes, some aero al­ter­ations, and some en­gine in­stal­la­tion op­tions to aid cool­ing too.

All three driv­ers, and most of the crew, were present for the test. Over the three days we clocked up ap­prox­i­mately 800km per car, and a grand to­tal of 476 laps!

That gave the me­chan­ics and en­gi­neers plenty for data to play with, and also proved a valu­able ex­pe­ri­ence for the two new driv­ers, Luke Davenport and Martin Dep­per, to get to grips with the Fo­cus and start to build work­ing re­la­tion­ships with the rest of the crew.

We’re not go­ing to give away all the re­sults from out tests (you never know if any of the other teams are read­ing!) but we’re qui­etly con­fi­dent, and the tests in Por­tu­gal were very pos­i­tive. We found some things that worked well, and just as im­por­tantly, some things that didn’t work quite so well. In fact, in many cases we ac­tu­ally learn more about the car from things that don’t work, than we learn from things that do work!

Be­fore the 2017 sea­son kicks off we’ve got a busy few weeks ahead of us. We’ll back out test­ing at Brands Hatch again (we do need to do some cold weather test­ing, as it’s not al­ways 20-plus de­grees on race day!), then we’ve got the BTCC Media Day at Don­ing­ton Park, be­fore the flag fi­nally drops on Race 1 on 2nd April!

The Motorbase team headed to Por­tu­gal for some warm weather test­ing ahead of the 2017 sea­son

Each car cov­ered ap­prox­i­mately 800km, mean­ing a grand to­tal of 476 laps of test­ing!

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