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Rory Butcher earns day one bragging rights

Motorbase Performance driver Rory Butcher recorded the fastest lap time on the opening day of the two-day BTCC Goodyear tyre test at Snetterton (7 July), after the Scotsman set the pace in prime conditions just before lunch.

Butcher’s day didn’t get off to the best of starts after his Ford Focus came to a halt shortly after leaving the pitlane, but he was soon back on-track and on a charge.

With BTC Racing’s Tom Chilton looking like he would be the man to top the timesheets, Butcher left it until his final lap before the interval to set a 1:56.504s benchmark.

“Today has gone well and it’s good to be at Snetterton with all of our competition,” said Butcher. “The car has been really good straight out of the box. We just had a slight niggle this morning – an electrical issue that halted our first run – but since then it has gone really smoothly and we’ve worked our way through our plan.

“We’re definitely in a good place with the car. We decided to do a proper run at the end and see where we are. It turned out to be a good lap and the car was mega. Overall, this new Ford Focus is feeling fantastic.”

Chilton had to settle for second ahead of the manufacturer-backed Toyota Corolla of Tom Ingram, with the latter looking extremely comfortable with his pace throughout the morning.

Jake Hill (MB Motorsport accelerated by Blue Square), Dan Cammish (Halfords Yuasa Racing) and Stephen Jelley (Team Parker Racing) completed the top six; ahead of 2017 champion Ash Sutton in the Laser Tools Racing Infiniti.

Michael Crees continues to acclimatise well to the pacey Honda Civic Type-R Fk8 at BTC Racing, as he set the eighth fastest time ahead of Ciceley’s Mercedes duo of Adam Morgan and Daniel Rowbottom.

26 cars recorded more than 700 laps of the 3-mile circuit in the morning run, with another 250 plus laps completed in the afternoon session.

A heavy shower during the lunch break and continuing drizzle into the afternoon put paid to any improvements in times, but several drivers made use of the conditions to clock mileage with the Goodyear wet tyres.

It was the Team HARD-VW of Jack Goff that ran best on the greasy surface as he edged out Chilton and Carl Boardley in his striking gold BMW 1 Series.

Most of the attention in the early morning was on Darren Turner and the emergence of the TOCA Hybrid Toyota Corolla, which hit the track for the first time today.

The Speedwork-run machine broke cover mid-morning and will now undergo an extensive test and development programme before the competitive introduction of hybrid power into the BTCC in 2022.

Back to the now, however, and the action gets back underway tomorrow with all 26 cars – plus the Hybrid machine – expected to be back on track.

There will be one change from today’s line-up as female racer Esmee Hawkey takes over from Hill in the MB Motorsport Honda Civic Type R.

The pitlane will again open from 0900-1230 for the morning session, with the afternoon segment of 1330-1700 concluding the official Goodyear tyre test.

Click here for the final classification from the opening day of testing at Snetterton.

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