Posted by and filed under Guest blog.

Whilst indulging in our regular Friday treat of fish and chips, Team BPS often has whatever Friday practice session is running on the TV. When a grand prix weekend provides us with our lunchtime entertainment, it is usually accompanied by some light-hearted debate about the future of the top rank of “our” sport. Our team is made up of a few members with direct experience of an F1 weekend, some more used to an armchair view. For this month’s blog we’ve pulled together some of these avec-lunch views to create the “BPS manifesto for F1”. Obviously it comes with the disclaimer that we have an only slightly above average knowledge of the highly commercial and technical world of F1, and this is purely a collection of non-connected ideas that we believe could make the sport more sustainable and entertaining. By no means are we trying to start a political campaign, claim these are entirely unique ideas or making an extremely low-rent bid for a job with the FIA.

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Reset the rules (and keep them that way)

The imbalance between the little and large teams within F1 is not going to change unless the slate is wiped clean. A new rulebook would go some way to neutralising the grid again. We’d then keep the rules stable to allow the costs of the changes to be absorbed over a three-year period.

Reuse and recycle

We’d also suggest that there is a three-year cycle for each basic chassis design. Again a cost-cutting measure. At the start of the year each team would have to homologate a low, medium and high downforce setting, to try and prevent expensive and wasteful one-use wings

Give new talent a try

We want three car teams – with the third seat taken up by a rookie. By rookie, we mean they’ve got the mandatory superlicence and have completed less than fifty percent of a F1 season. This car would be eligible points, and could be last-season spec for those teams who are more have more budgetary challenges.

Return to the classics

This one is a unanimous verdict from across the team. We only need 16 races a year, however they need to be at awesome venues with heritage. We want great racing and full grandstands, and to reminisce about battles gone by whilst speculating about the next.

Free the reigns

Too many incidents end up being resolved in race control. Not every bang of wheels warrants a trip to see the head teacher. This attitude is creeping into other parts of motorsport – lets cut down on the penalties and protests and sort things out on the track.

Engage the audience with information

As a motley crew of ex-race team staff, we are used to a plethora of information on a pit wall, which makes racing so much easier to follow. Opening up a lot more of this to the public in an easy to understand way will drive audience engagement. Let the fans see more of what goes on behind the scenes. We think this is the real key to firing up the next generation of engineers.

Embrace sustainability (environmental and financial) where possible

Ditch fuel saving in a race – it is a drop in the ocean, when you consider the huge amount of fuel used in the multitude of trucks, planes, trains and boats it takes to lug the teams around the world. Let’s sort the big stuff first without compromising the racing. Centralise hospitality to cut the carbon footprint. Whilst impressive, these are a huge cost in terms of money, staff and energy. We’re also pro 2-day race weekends; Give the spectators more action for each ticket they buy, and save some hotel money for the teams at the same time. Two free practice sessions and qualifying on Saturday, a warm up and race on Sunday. Yes, bring back Sunday warm up – we aren’t complete killjoys after all!

Posted by and filed under Meet the team.

This month we chat to Ella Barrington about the changes in three years of BPS, winning awards and loading the dishwasher.

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How did you come to work at BPS?

I’ve been with the company since June 2013. I’d been working full time for a GT team as their Engineering Manager, which incorporated trackside engineering, project management during the week and lots of hours on a plane. A mutual motorsport contact shared the Business Manager job advert on social media, and it seemed like a good next step. I had worked in a technical sales capacity when I completed my post graduate degree at Oxford Brookes University, which was a great way to start a network in professional motorsport. Although it was a really challenging job, I had enjoyed it at lot. The role at BPS ticked the commercial and technical boxes for me, and meant I could spend less time packing and repacking suitcases! I had a meeting with Darren, ended up talking about dogs, and a month later I started at BPS. It was Saturday before Le Mans week and I got a three hour crash course in where things were in the office, a credit card and a key before Darren went away for two weeks. I did wonder what on earth I had got myself into that evening, but I’m still here three years later.

What does a typical day at BPS entail for you?

It very much depends on the time of year. Sometimes I’ll be in the office making sure that our various stakeholders are happy, and other times I’ll be out and about at trade shows, networking events and getting the BPS brand out there. When I started with the company there was only myself and one other full time team member, but now there are five, some times more if we are busy, so keeping everyone moving forward is quite a big task. With this comes a lot more HR tasks, pensions, more complex accounts, and making sure the company is compliant with everything it needs to be as a employer and limited company. I much prefer the more creative parts of the day, such as working on exhibition materials, digital marketing and hearing what our customers are up to over a cup of tea.

What do you think makes BPS different to other companies?

I think it has already been said, but the closeness of the team. We all have a great amount of respect for each other, how hard we all work, and the different skills we bring, and we have fun at work. I might get a bit annoyed sometimes at the amount of dirty cups abandoned in the workshop that don’t quite make it to the dishwasher, but I couldn’t do it without the rest of the team. Customers tend to pick up on this, and the long term rental drivers and teams we see week in, week out, end up as part of that family feel.

What is the best day you’ve had at BPS?

It has to be the night we were given the Motorsport Industry Association award back in January during the Autosport International show. Whilst Darren went up on stage to formally accept the prize, the rest of my table gave me a standing ovation. These were all other motorsport business people that have achieved so much, so it meant a great deal for them to recognise what this little company had done.

What do you do when you aren’t at work?

Last year I ran the London Marathon for the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, and this year I’m representing them in SwimSerpentine, a one-mile open water swim. This means I’m regularly found at the local pool at lunchtime. I’ve recently taken up Yoga to help with a shoulder injury and have to say it is the best way to unwind after a day of simulator-related stress!

What is the one piece of advice you’d give to your 15 year old self?

Your priorities change as you get older, and what is very important now (like Maths GCSE) isn’t remotely important in ten years time, so don’t worry about it so much. Life moves very quickly. Also they’ll invent hair straighteners in a couple of years time and it is great moment for all womankind!

Quick fire round!

Tea or coffee?

Earl grey tea.

Single-seater or GT?

GT.

Favourite track?

Bathurst or Macau.

Favourite car?

Audi R8 LMS GT3.

Favourite workshop/office radio station?

Radio 6 Music.

Posted by and filed under Business news, Formula Student.

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We are very pleased to be working with the Motorsport Industry Association (MIA) and SAHARA Force India Formula One Team to host the ever successful MIA School of Race Engineering in 2016.

The MIA set up the UK’s first and only specialised School of Race Engineering in 2010 to meet requests from motorsport and race team employers who have difficulty finding, and funding, top quality race engineering training. This unique School is open to high-level motorsport students and engineers and trains them in the specialist skills required to be a Race Engineer “on the pit wall” in a real working environment.

The School has established an excellent industry-wide reputation by delivering relevant, up-to-date course content which equips engineers to succeed as race engineers. Such real-time, current, experienced teaching from active, successful professional race engineers is difficult to organise, yet invaluable to the students and future employers.

The courses take place in a classroom environment alongside simulation sessions. Students receive instruction from race engineer tutors who have current on-track experience in major race series – IndyCar, WEC, USC, BGT, BTCC, GP2 and GP3. The School welcomes engineering students, graduates and professionals, all of whom need previous technical knowledge; all non-UK students must be fluent in English.

The MIA fully understands the fast changing demands of race engineering and updates the course content to keep it fresh and relevant. It seeks and secures new tutors skilled in the latest speciality subjects, continuously improving the learning experience. By partnering with the team here at BPS, the school will be incorporating the very latest simulation techniques, allowing students to gain a better understanding of this vital new component of race engineering – an essential tool which teams use to deliver solutions and results.

Various reports have revealed a skills gap effecting all engineering sectors, the school is aiming to give delegates the best opportunity to ‘hit the ground running’. With 830,000 new science, engineering and technology (SET) professionals and 450,000 SET technicians needed between now and 2020, there has never been a more vital time for high quality engineers.

The Format of the MIA School of Race Engineering

The School takes place over two weekends, during which a maximum of 20 students receive two full days of in-depth tutorial, each weekend. We are hosting part 2 of the course on 3rd & 4th December and SAHARA Force India Formula One Team are hosting part 1 of the course on 26th & 27th November. Many specialised, race engineering subjects are covered in detail – including set-up procedures, vehicle dynamics, data analysis, race simulation, driver communication and race strategy amongst others. On each Saturday evening, a well-known ‘race engineering’ special guest joins students and tutors to share their experience. Detailed course attendance certificates are awarded upon successful completion for use as a valuable reference when seeking employment.

Success of the MIA School of Race Engineering

Many past students have secured jobs in leading race teams, including Red Bull Racing Technology, Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team and Porsche GT, as a direct result of attending the School.

2016 Tutors

The MIA is very proud to have partnered with new tutors for 2016, Andy Brown and Rex Keen. Andy Brown, whose career spans more than 30 years, with direct involvement within a leading Formula One team and four Indianapolis 500 victories and Rex Keen, who has 20 years’ motorsport experience within V8 Supercars, Formula Ford, Formula 3, Sports Cars, Porsche Carrera Cup, BMW Mini Challenge and 24 Hour Endurance races. Both will also be supported by leading engineers from global championships.

The MIA has recently opened registrations, if you think this course would be of value to your career, please do come and join us.

Details on how to register can be found on the MIA School of Race Engineering web page, alternatively, you can contact carly.latcham@the-mia.com at the MIA who would be more than happy to answer any queries.

Figures taken from: https://www.theengineer.co.uk/issues/october-2012-online/report-reveals-scale-of-uks-engineering-skills-shortage/

Posted by and filed under Meet the team.

Mr June is Marc Wood, the one of our latest recruits to the technical team and lead Simulator Engineer.

Marc Wood Base Performance Simulators

How did you come to work at BPS?

After three years working for a international single seater team, I wanted a new challenge and responsibility. I have always been interested in the computing and simulation area of motorsport as it seems to be an increasingly important tool for teams. I saw an ad in Autosport magazine late last year, and joined the growing team here at the start of February.

What does a typical day at BPS entail for you?

Supporting customers around the world, working with drivers of varying experience, and thinking of new solutions to our problems.  I like exploring anything that can make our lives easier and those of our customers.

What do you think makes BPS different to other companies?

It seems like everyone else has said this before, but the friendly atmosphere.  We work really hard and regularly have to drop what we were planning to do to help a customer, so sometimes the days end up being long, but they’ll always be someone around to make you a cup of coffee and help you out when you need it.  It extends to our customers as well – they’ll always be a team by the coffee machine to catch up with.

What is the best day you’ve had at BPS?

Coming from a single seater racing background, it was actually really interesting to spend a day with one of our LMP2 customer teams. I learnt a lot about how you would engineer a sportscar for an endurance race. Although the theory and physics is the same as what I’m used to, setting a car up for multiple drivers over long distances is quite different.  Getting to talk in depth with the team engineer allowed me to understand what they were facing at the track, and then I could make sure that was what they were going to get out of the simulator.

What do you do when you aren’t at work?

I have to confess, I watch a lot of motorsport even after spending all week doing it.  I’ve just become a property owner for the first time in February, so I’ve spent a lot of time on that recently. Hopefully it will be the start of an empire!

What is the one piece of advice you’d give to your 15 year old self?

Make sure you get experience in the industry as early as possible.  It isn’t just about your qualifications in this game.

Quick fire round

Tea or coffee?

Coffee.

Single-seater or GT?

Single-seater.

Favourite track?

Zolder.

Favourite car?

1995 Williams F1 – the car that made me want to work in motorsport.

Favourite workshop radio station?

Spotify.

Posted by and filed under Guest blog.

This month we hand over to our friends over at The Online Racing Association (TORA) to review their Production GT championship, which we have been supporting over the last month.  TORA is the only online racing club to be recognised by the UK motorsport governing body, the MSA. If you can’t get up to BPS, but still want to be involved in simulated racing, head over to www.theonlineracingassociation.com to find out more.

Production based GT racing is the foundation on which TORA is based and so it was fitting that with Forza Motorsport 6 newly released that a series based on this time-honoured formula should feature in 2016.

With the mantra of ‘over-powered and over here’ the emphasis was on fun cars and close racing. Each meeting would consist of qualifying and two races with mandatory pit stops visiting some of the world’s best circuits

Round 1: Watkins Glen

The opening round saw 50 cars take to the track ranging from Toyota GT86 to Camaros and F Type Jaguars.

Two action packed races proved the formula was working with close racing up and down the field. Race 1 went to the Camaro of Jay Sherlock while the second was taken by David Hoch in his GT86-F. The big news following the race was the withdrawal of F4H Motorsport from the series.

Round 1 TORA BPS GT

Round 2: Silverstone

Sherlock made it a perfect weekend with pole and two race wins at his home event making it look as if even at this early stage, the Camaro/VOR alliance was going to be a tough nut to crack. Race 2 saw Scott Mccraken in his all new Alfa 4C take a well deserved first podium in the series.

Silverstone also saw the very welcome return of iconic TORA team M&M Racing for a partial campaign in a pair of AMG GTS.

TORA BPS PGT Round 3

Round 3: Hockenheim

In Germany Mccraken led the way with Alfa, holding off the advances of the MMOW-Samsung Toyota and RedLab Motorsport’s Camaros in Race one. It was much the same in race two except issues for Perez saw him drop behind eventual third place man Alan Forster in the MVG Racing AMG GTS. It seemed to have taken a little while for the new Mercedes to get into it’s stride but at the midpoint it was clear that progress was being made up and down the field.

TORA BPS PGT Round 3

Round 4: Monza

With significant testing mileage made by the Virtual Pirtek Racing squad, Monza was always going to be a strong circuit for the BMW M4.

Brett Wheatley capitalised, taking two wins for VPR, their first of the series. Dino Silenzi picked up a strong second place after securing pole position and Paul McCrea made it an even better weekend for VPR with two third places. The title aspirations of Mccraken improved further with a pair of fourths.

Round 5: Catalunya

The Spanish leg of the championship was all about RedLab and their improved and ultimately dominant Camaros. The trio locked out the top three throughout the weekend and assured that they were still in with a shout of the Teams title heading into COTA. Mccraken had an offbeat weekend but the net result was just enough to keep him in the lead of the championship. The gap almost certainly was unlikely to be bridged.

TORA BPS PGT Round 4

Round 6: Circuit of the Americas

The championship would be decided at TORA’s favourite holiday destination, Circuit of the Americas. A close qualifying session saw the top two separated by less than 0.2s and the first ten covered by only three seconds.

In Race 1 an overlap at Turn 1 saw a number of cars pick up minor early damage but the majority of the field stuck together throughout. The in-fighting allowed Alex Davis-Loades in the Ax4x PGT Motorsport Camaro to stretch out his lead early on. Pole sitter Hawkins suffered issues that dropped him into the midfield. Even VPR were not getting the most out of their BMWs in Austin. Hunter in the sole Cyber Racing Mercedes benefitted initially running as high as sixth before a power failure exiting the pits dropped him to the back. He would fight back to 16th.

Race 2 saw another victory for the Camaro on home ground in the hands of Davis-Loades with second going to Daniel Perez. A slightly better performance for the VPR BMWs confirmed them as team champions while the absent Scott Mccraken had done enough to secure the Drivers crown.

The Base Performance Production GT had it all in 2016, controversy, contact, off track politics and in fact everything you’d expect to find in a real world paddock! Most of all however, the series never swayed far from its mantra and at the fall of the flag in Austin there wasn’t a driver on track without a smile. A positive end then to the series. The teams are already looking forward to the next season!

TORA BPS PGT Pirtek

Posted by and filed under Meet the team.

We move from the workshop into the office for February. Centre stage this month is Emily Hogan. She is in charge of the pennies, pounds and making sure Darren Turner hasn’t lost receipts!

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How did you come to work at BPS?

After graduating with a degree in animation and a work history of sales and administration I developed a late passion for Motorsport. Feeling like an unlikely candidate to work in the industry, I was content to nurture my passion with marshalling and spectating. The advertisement on the BPS website for an administration position was bought to my attention and I saw an opportunity. I was invited for an interview and later offered the job.

What does a typical day at BPS entail for you?

Alongside helping with the general housekeeping, a typical day for me usually entails maintaining the BPS books and general administrative duties. I’m organising, paying, recording and writing invoices, answering phone calls and emails, and booking simulator sessions. As the company keeps growing this becomes a bigger and bigger task!

What do you think makes BPS different to other companies?

BPS is unique to me as an administrator as I am required to be more involved in other areas which I wouldn’t have the chance for in another company. Having the opportunity to meet and hear stories from drivers and people involved is great. I am continuously learning and developing in ways I never imagined I would. Having such friendly and knowledgable colleagues around me who have similar interests but different backgrounds makes the day go quickly.

What is the best day you’ve had at BPS?

It’s hard to define my best day really. From day one this job has been an eye opener and a wonderful welcome to a part of the Motorsport industry. My first time in the GT sim was pretty high up on the experience list.

What do you do when you aren’t at work?

When I’m not at work I am a trainee marshal, mainly at Donington, as well as a spectator of various motorsport events including the Le Mans 24 hour. I am a friend and supporter of the National Memorial Arboretum and I enjoy travelling when I can. Movies, drawing, computer games and baking are also a great way to relax after a day of financial reporting.

What is the one piece of advice you’d give to your 15 year old self?

I would probably say hang in there. You will continue to learn for most your life so relax and don’t put so much pressure on yourself, you’re 15! Enjoy life.

On to the quick fire round

Tea or coffee?

Tea.

Single-seater or GT?

GT.

Favourite track?

Donington or Circuit de la Sarthe.

Favourite car?

Classic Fiat 500/595 Abarth.

Favourite workshop/office radio station?

BBC Radio 2.

Posted by and filed under Business news.

Base Performance Simulators was announced as the winner of the Business of the Year award (with a turnover of under £5m), at the annual Motorsport Industry Association’s (MIA) Business Excellence Awards on 14 January 2016.

The sell-out event, which took place at the Birmingham NEC as part of the world-renowned Autosport International show, saw more than 500 guests from across the globe come together to recognise the achievements of the motorsport industry over the past 12 months.

The Motorsport Industry Association (MIA) is the world’s leading trade association for the motorsport, high performance engineering, and services sectors. It represents the specialised needs of a highly successful industry which, although extending throughout the world and rapidly expanding in the developing nations, is centred here in the UK.

Company founder Darren Turner said: “I was very proud to accept this award. It is a true reflection of the work that Ella Barrington and the whole team at BPS has put in during the last 12 months. 2015 was a record-breaking year in every aspect of the business and it is a source of immense pride for all of us that our efforts have been recognised by others in our industry. ”

MIA CEO, Chris Aylett said: “It is a real privilege to be part of an industry which represents so many world-class organisations and individuals. This year’s winners and finalists have yet again impressed the judges with their innovation and performance. The quality of the entries was incredibly high and we’d like to congratulate the entire motorsport supply chain for the continued passion, drive and commitment to excellence which ensures global renown.”

First presented in 1995, the MIA Business Excellence Awards recognise excellence at all levels within the motorsport and high performance engineering industry.

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Posted by and filed under Meet the team.

Next up in “Meet the BPS team” features, we feature Matt George. Despite being the most junior member of staff, Matt’s experience and attitude more than make up for his relative youth!

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How did you come to work at BPS?

I wanted to make a step into the future of motorsport in terms of driver training and track time. I had been working as a mechanic for a single seater team alongside coaching in karting, and I wanted to develop my data analysis skills and the basics of engineering. I saw an opportunity at BPS to do all those things and grabbed it with both arms.

What does a typical day at BPS entail for you?

Usually my day is spent with customers on our rental simulators working on helping to improve drivers of all ages and ability. My role in sessions is to make sure that everyone gets the most they can out of their time here. When I’m not sat in the dark in the simulators, I’m building systems for our customers around the world and then travelling out to install them and train their operators.

What do you think makes BPS different to other companies?

I think BPS is different because of the drive the whole team has to create a good experience for the customer. We try to tailor everything we do to each and every individual customer that comes through our doors. It is a big job, but it isn’t something you always see elsewhere and it’s great to be a part of it.

What is the best day you’ve had at BPS?

I would say pin pointing it to one would be very hard; I actually always enjoy the corporate days – helping people to experience something new. Some guests have never seen anything like this before. Seeing how much enjoyment they get out of the day is great. Another highlight was probably the day we were finally gave our motion platform the thumbs up, driving it and being able to see how far we had come in such a short period of time.

What do you do when you aren’t at work?

When I am not at work you can find me driver coaching around the country at karting or car tracks, if not racing myself. This year I will be competing in the British GT championship, so you will be able to find me in the cold and wet paddocks of the UK and Belgium!

What is the one piece of advice you’d give to your 15 year old self?

Keep doing what you are doing. The harder and more focused you are, the better and easier things become. No matter how hard it seems if you want something go and get it.

Now for the quick fire round!

Tea or coffee?

Tea.

Single-seater or GT?

GT.

Favourite track?

Bathurst.

Favourite car?

Aston Vantage.

Favourite workshop/office radio station?

Radio 1.

Posted by and filed under Meet the team.

This month we learn a little more about the most junior member of Team BPS. Ralph is at the very start of his motorsport career as our Technical Intern.

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How did you come to work at BPS?

Having worked with BPS before through its sponsorship of Oxford Brookes Racing Formula Student team, I was lucky enough to do few weeks work here over my summer holidays, and now continue to work here part-time around my studies.

What does a typical day at BPS entail

My days at BPS are always different. It can vary from testing new car models and tracks, to assisting Matt, Ella and Simon on whatever our customers need that day.

What do you think makes BPS different to other companies?

Its tenacity. Despite being a young, small company in the sector, I think BPS acquits itself very well. As is shown by its extensive and contrasting list of global clients. I’m pretty lucky to be exposed to so much.

What is the best day you’ve had at BPS?

One of my first projects at BPS was to audit our entire car library, ensuring the models were consistent with our high standards. The project included driving every single car… how could I possibly say no!

What do you do when you aren’t at work?

I work towards my degree in Motorsport Engineering at Oxford Brookes University. Both Simon and Ella studied there, so it is a well trodden path.

What is the one piece of advice you’d give to your 15 year old self?

If you want something, go get it.

Quick fire round

Tea or coffee?

Tea.

Single-seater or GT?

GT.

Favourite track?

Nordschleife.

Favourite car?

Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Estate.

Favourite workshop radio station?

Spotify for me.

Posted by and filed under Meet the team.

In the first of our “Meet the BPS team” features, we talk to Simon Lock. Simon is the company’s secret weapon when it comes to all things electronics, code and modelling.

How did you come to work at BPS?

I became interested in Driver-in-the-Loop simulation after using various bits of DIL data for Formula E modelling in my previous job. I went to Oxford Brookes University to study engineering, and then worked for a couple of Formula One teams. I then became involved in Formula E for their inaugural season. The cars are obviously very different to F1, and the nature of the one day events was a real challenge, but an experience I enjoyed a lot.

What does a typical day at BPS entail for you?

A bit of everything! One minute I could be building up some electronics boxes for a new build, then I’m code writing, and modelling. Sometimes to develop our own solutions for customer hardware, and sometimes working with rental customers “live” to help them develop their car models. Whatever is top of the to do list really.

What do you think makes BPS different to other companies?

You get to work with your mates. There is a really good atmosphere at BPS. We’re a small team and we’re permanently busy, but we always make sure we have to time to sit down on a Friday lunchtime and have fish and chips together. Everyone has worked in different parts of racing before this, so we all have the same attitude to life, but have different experiences. It makes for some good story telling!

What is the best day you’ve had at BPS?

The end of our first motion platform tuning day, just a couple of months back. It was amazing how far it came in a few hours. After more than a month’s worth of building work, designing and making the interface for the chassis, and then coding the communication between our simulator and the motion platform, everything just came together.

What do you do when you aren’t at work?

I like to get outdoors as much as possible. Running, biking, swimming, triathlons, mountain climbing. Preferably up in Cumbria for the mega scenery.

What is the one piece of advice you’d give to your 15 year old self?

Don’t be scared to cock stuff up!

Quick fire round

Tea or coffee?

Coffee all the way.

Single-seater or GT?

Single-seater, as it is closest to a motorbike!

Favourite track?

Laguna Seca or Oulton Park.

Favourite car?

Formula E test car – although it can be my least favourite as well.

Favourite workshop radio station?

Country 105.