The announcement of IP Tech Race Engineering as the newest team to the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship grid for the 2013 season was met in January with great enthusiasm from the touring car fraternity.
Andy Neate’s success and extensive experience as a world class engineer has resulted in fans and competitors alike anticipating the appearance of the Next Generation-spec Chevrolet Cruze saloon designed and built in-house by IP Tech. The team will compete under the ‘Team Club 44′ banner.
The desire to succeed that has held Andy in good stead his entire career, and that has enabled him to become an ambassador for young engineers, has now resulted in the team making the difficult decision to delay its debut in the BTCC until Donington Park on 21 April, with the teams second registered car set to appear in the latter part of the season.
From designing the car from scratch, to putting in place the operational facilities at base, and to commissioning and acquiring all the additional equipment needed to run a professional racing outfit, the creation of IP Tech Racing Engineering and the creation of its new BTCC challenger hasn’t been without its challenges.
Added to that, since entering into the British Touring Car Championship in 2010, Andy has not had the benefit of an extensive testing programme prior to the start of the season. Indeed, in 2012, Andy had not completed a lap in his MG when he arrived at the opening round at Brands Hatch.
When setting up IP Tech Race Engineering, Andy vowed that this was not a position he would find himself in again, resulting in the decision to take a longer-term view and spend additional time developing and preparing the new Cruze to provide the team with a stronger base from which to move forwards.
It’s very disappointing that we’ve had to take the decision to miss the first race meeting but with all the challenges we’ve faced so far, it’s absolutely the right thing to do,” he said. “Arriving at Brands next week without any testing in a brand new car, with a new engine developed specifically for us, would be foolish. I’ve been in that position before and last year specifically the result was that I effectively lost half the season in getting the #44 car to where it should have been on day one.
Putting together something like this is a huge undertaking and at no point have we underestimated the work involved. However, there is a massive reliance on a large number of elements coming together at each carefully planned stage in the development. For various reasons, that simply hasn’t happened as we’d intended, which inevitably holds the whole process up. The knock-on effect is that we’ve missed critical deadlines in our project and we’re not prepared to cut corners at this stage.
We said from the beginning that this was a long-term project and the objective was to be competitive against the best in the business. Starting on the back foot is no way to achieve that ambition. We have secured an additional registration for the championship and that car is due to be finished for the second part of the season. Needless to say, we’ve got to get everything right from the start.”
Andy’s approach to building the team has been unique in that he has assembled everything from the ground up, even going as far as commissioning a bespoke race transporter to take into account the specific requests of the mechanics and engineers who will be working from it throughout the race season. The pit garage has also been designed using the latest lighting technology to ensure that they have a working environment to rival the competitors in the Formula One paddock.
This consideration for the professionals that Andy has recruited to bring this project to fruition has been without compromise, and it is for those reasons that allowing them the additional time they need to show precisely what is achievable at this level is of paramount importance.
We’ve had fantastic support from our sponsors and it’s in no small part due to their commitment and understanding of our objectives that we’ve been able to make this decision,” he said. “I want everyone involved to be immensely proud of what we’ve achieved so far and if that means foregoing one weekend of what will be many to come, it’s got to be worth the wait.”
Andy will appear at the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship Media Day at Donington Park on Thursday 21st March.
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