COROLLA UNCOVERED: TOYOTA GAZOO RACING UK BTCC CHALLENGER REVEALED
The wraps have officially come off Toyota Gazoo Racing UK’s 2021 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship contender, sporting a livery reminiscent of the brand’s ultra-successful, multiple World Championship-winning FIA WEC and WRC models as the Speedworks Motorsport-run squad targets title glory in the country’s premier motor racing series.
After achieving impressive results with a single-car effort since 2014 – recording 16 race wins, 41 podium finishes and back-to-back Independent Drivers’ and Teams’ crowns – the forthcoming campaign marks Speedworks’ expansion to two cars for the first time in eight years.
Former BTCC Independents’ Champion Rory Butcher and series returnee Sam Smelt will pilot the Northwich, Cheshire-based outfit’s brace of Motul-backed Toyota Corollas, which will take to the track to begin Toyota Gazoo Racing UK’s pre-season testing programme later this week, starting at Donington Park before moving on to Snetterton and Brands Hatch.
The action will then get underway in earnest on 8/9 May at super-fast Thruxton – scene of a superb double victory for the British-built Corolla last September. Every race will be televised live and in high-definition on ITV4.
Rory Butcher, Driver, Toyota Gazoo Racing UK, said:
“I think the new livery is amazing! It’s typically Toyota, and it looks so cool with the red and black lines against a white background – it’s unmistakably a member of the Toyota Gazoo Racing family. It will definitely stand out on the BTCC grid, and I’m so excited to be carrying such iconic colours this year.
“I’ve got to say, I’ve settled into the team very well. All the guys and girls have made me feel extremely welcome from the outset, and everybody is so focussed on the objective of fighting for the championship, pushing hard in every single area to ensure we really maximise our performance.
“I’ve been getting to know the mechanics and my new engineer Paul Ridgway, who has been involved in the BTCC for a long time and arrives with an excellent reputation. My brother-in-law Gordon Shedden – who worked with Paul a couple of years ago – gave him a ringing endorsement too, so I’m excited to see what we can accomplish together.
“The whole vibe right now is hugely positive, and I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to the first test at Donington Park. I’ve been counting down the days ever since I signed up, and having raced closely against the Corolla over the past couple of years, I can’t wait to climb behind the wheel for myself and discover what all the buzz is about!”
Sam Smelt, Driver, Toyota Gazoo Racing UK, said:
“I was at the team workshop when they were just starting the wrapping process, so it’s fantastic to now see the Corolla up close in the flesh with my name on the side. I think it looks really striking and reinforces the team’s ties with Toyota Gazoo Racing, a brand that has become synonymous with success in recent years. That’s a really powerful association and great motivation for all of us.
“After testing the Corolla for the first time towards the end of last year on a wet and greasy day at Snetterton, I’m looking forward to hopefully benefitting from some proper running over the next few days and really familiarising myself with the car. I’m excited about getting into the groove and back into ‘touring car mode’ following a couple of years away – it feels a bit more real with every passing day.
“The start of the campaign is now less than seven weeks off and it’s coming around fast. I’ve not been to Thruxton since 2018, but it’s a great place to begin the season and obviously the Corolla was super-strong there last year, so I think it’s fair to say the whole team will return with a great deal of optimism and ready to fight up at the sharp end. ”
Christian Dick, Team Principal, Toyota Gazoo Racing UK, added:
“We’re delighted to show off the Corolla’s ‘new clothes’ for 2021! Since first gaining official BTCC ‘Manufacturer’ status two years ago, we’ve worked hard to foster ever-closer relations with Toyota Gazoo Racing and to now see not just one but two Speedworks-built touring cars in the brand’s signature red, black and white colour scheme is a very special moment indeed. I must also pay tribute to Motul and [official UK importer and distributor] Witham Motorsport for their ongoing support in stepping up to the role of Primary Partner this season.
“I have no doubt that the cars will look even better at speed, and we are all excited to go testing this week to try out everything we’ve been working on back at base over the winter months. We are quietly confident of taking another step forward with the Corolla this year, and once the action gets underway, we look forward to seeing the Toyota Gazoo Racing colours where they belong – right at the front of the pack.”