Things started to change slightly when lockdown began, understandably so when people are falling ill and companies can’t pay their staff. Every BTCC driver’s deal is different, and for me it wasn’t a case of being a factory driver and not having to worry about anything – there were lots of different aspects to it commercially, both from my side and from BMW’s. Over the last month-and-a-half it got down to the nitty gritty, and, put simply, I’d have to take some financial risk on it, as the package there was there before COVID-19 just wasn’t there anymore.
Now I’ve been in the sport for a long time, and I’ve tried to make sure I am sensible with how I’ve done it and what I have taken from it – the BTCC gives you a great profile, and I always wanted to use the BTCC’s platform to make sure I had other things going on, in terms of business and partnerships. The offer to drive was still there from both BMW and West Surrey Racing, but thinking about it over and over, I just wasn’t prepared to take a risk so big. I’ve got to think big picture with it, not just with my family but with my business, and long-term I just can’t put any of that in jeopardy.
Some people will agree and some will disagree, but ultimately it was my decision to make, and we’ve all accepted it. Long term, it’s the right thing to do.
And I must stress, there’s been no fallout. Leaving BMW and WSR happened on good terms. I spoke to Dick Bennetts yesterday on the phone for an hour, and we were just chatting normally as if none of this had happened. And having been able to build up so many relationships with some great partners over the years, I'm excited to continue working on those.