Hamilton: ‘I was so proud leaving the pit lane on Thursday’
Motorbase Performance fielded all three of its cars at Brands Hatch last Thursday, as the Kent outfit looks to bed in new drivers and changes under the skin of its Ford Focus RS ahead of testing in Spain in two weeks’ time.
In the red-and-black ROCKiT-backed corner of the stable in 2019 is new recruit Nic Hamilton. The Stevenage driver makes the jump into a first full BTCC campaign after a stint in the Renault UK Clio Cup. He spoke of his delight at sealing the deal with Motorbase and intimated his excitement about what’s to come.
“Thursday was surreal,” said Hamilton. “I’m so grateful for the opportunity that Motorbase have given me; they’ve been amazing. I am so happy to be here and I couldn’t have wished for a better team to be a part of.
“The professionalism is just incredible. Rich (Benton), my engineer, is a passionate guy and he kept me focussed and fired up in-session. It’s a new challenge for him engineering me, and it’s a new challenge for me as I try to learn and develop myself into a race-winning driver.
“I am so excited that things are underway, and I can’t wait for Brands Hatch. It really is my first crack at the BTCC and it’s all new. I had four appearances in 2015 in the Audi S3 Saloon and I haven’t driven a BTCC car since, so it was really a bit of a distant memory for me and a case of starting afresh.
“It was a bit daunting at first, but everything went perfectly for me in-car. There’s little comparison to the Clio Cup. Everything’s different and the Focus was just incredible. Even if I didn’t particularly lean on it through the shakedown, you still get the feel of the insane amount of grip available.
“I’m super comfortable in the car already and really, it was the first proper shakedown I’ve ever been involved in. It was a bit greasy in the morning but the car felt good. I was getting faster all day and set my best time right at the end, which was about as perfect as it could have been.
“It was my first outing with the modifications and my seat mould. It was all about getting that feel and comfort right first off so I know what to expect ahead of the mileage we plan to do in Spain at the beginning of March. I’m sure I’ll be feeling it after that but it’s all part of it! I’ll be ready.”
Hamilton has designs on forging a long-term BTCC career, and has tailored his maiden season’s expectations with that in mind. Personal development, making use of all of the experience from his stablemates over in the yellow corner at Motorbase, alongside doing his team justice is the priority.
“We will be as prepared as we possibly can be come Season Launch and whether that means P5 or P25, we will work with that and develop from there. I really want to do the team and the car justice and it’s such a bonus having Tom Chilton and Ollie Jackson to work with.
“Those guys have incredible knowledge of the championship – Tom’s been there 16 years, I think. They’ve got so much experience and they’ll be a massive help in giving me a strong base to work from. The closer I can get to them, the better.
“I know what I need from the car. It’s about keeping everything as simple as possible. Motorbase have been so accommodating and they are really going the extra mile for me. They’ve given me the freedom, right down to picking ridged pedals for better feel.
“This is an opportunity to develop a career in the BTCC and that is my aim. I was so proud leaving the pit-lane yesterday.”
Team Manager Oly Collins was happy with a productive initial outing for the team.
“All three drivers were out on track on Thursday,” said Team Manager Oly Collins. “We did around 50 laps per car in what was predominantly an initial shakedown.
“It went brilliantly and exactly to plan. It’s been a learning process for us and for Nic. We’ve applied similar adaptions to those he ran in 2015 in the BTCC. He finds that they suit him and his style well.
“We’ve been working through everything on the car that can be tailored to suit his setup and balance preferences, as well as all the additional things we can do with a BTCC car in terms of seating position and comfort as opposed to the Renault UK Clio Cup cars that he’s been more accustomed to.
“All three guys were very close on track and it bodes well ahead of a busy schedule out at Calafat in Spain prior to Season Launch.”