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Marcus Simmons

Motorbase plans to support BTCC customer team in 2024

The Kent squad’s machinery have been the cars to beat this season, with Ash Sutton leading the drivers’ standings, and contributing to a clean sweep of five pole positions out of five together with team-mates Dan Rowbottom and Dan Cammish.

This comes after Motorbase investigated a switch to a rear-wheel-drive car model for 2023, only to elect instead to plough its resources into the development of the fourth-generation Focus, which made its debut in 2020. 

The team plans to support what could amount to a satellite operation with a supply of two or four versions of the Ford. 

“The winter development plan was the most intense development plan the team has ever undertaken,” Motorbase team manager Oly Collins told Autosport. 

“No stone was unturned in every element of the car’s performance, from aero to geometry, engine and cooling, chassis and reliability, all given equal attention to improve and maximise.  

“The proof is seemingly in the pudding but we’re only halfway through so we’re still pushing. 

“We have a fantastic team behind us at Motorbase, and if we can help another team by sharing some of that knowledge and experience then great. Having more Motorbase Focuses on the grid can only be a good thing.” 

The plan amounts to an admission by the NAPA-backed team that it will continue with the Focus, at least for the 2024 season. 

Ashley Sutton, NAPA Racing UK Ford Focus ST (Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images)

Team principal Pete Osborne, who took the reins from founder David Bartrum prior to the 2021 campaign, also suggested that the current line-up of Sutton, Cammish, Rowbottom and his son Sam Osborne will remain on board next year. 

“We’re more than happy with the current arrangement with NAPA Racing UK and the four drivers we have,” said Osborne.  

“So the next obvious step as a company is to help a customer team to run alongside us with our support, whether that be a two or a four-car team.  

“We have looked at our winter programme and other elements of the team and we realised we can offer everything from the car, set-up and garage equipment, trucks, everything needed to start a team from scratch.  

“We have even been in discussions with drivers and sponsors so can almost offer the whole package within reason.” 

The Osborne family’s first involvement with the BTCC came when Sam competed in 2019 with the Excelr8 Motorsport MG squad, before moving in 2020 to the AmD-run MB Motorsport Honda set-up and then acquiring Motorbase. 

“Having been through the experience of starting out in the BTCC with another team running us and then evolving into taking over the operation of Motorbase Performance, you realise there are mistakes which I’ve learned along the way, and I would love to help someone else realise the dreams I have – removing some of the mistakes I made,” added Osborne.  

“If we can offer close to the complete package and work with them almost like a satellite team I would relish it. It would naturally raise the profile of Motorbase Performance while raising our own game with some close competition.” 

Sam Osborne, NAPA Racing UK Ford Focus ST (Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images)

There are six of the fourth-generation, Motorbase-built Focuses in existence – apart from the four race cars, the ex-Ollie Jackson 2020/21 car is used for promotional work, while the ex-Andy Neate machine could be available and is the lowest-mileage. 

“The more orthodox plan would be to supply the customer with this year’s chassis and build new for ourselves,” said Collins.  

“That means the customer gets the new machinery immediately and can start the learning process straight away while we build the new chassis.  

“However, there is nothing to stop us building new for customer use if that’s the requirement. We have as much faith in our used machinery as well as new-build.”

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