BUTCHER CHARGES UP CHAMPIONSHIP TABLE WITH TOP SIX TREBLE
A strong outing around the quickest circuit in the country last weekend (28/29 August) has fired Rory Butcher firmly into the top ten in the 2021 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship standings, as Toyota Gazoo Racing UK featured consistently up at the sharp end of proceedings at Thruxton.
An excellent performance in qualifying at the high-speed Hampshire track put former BTCC Independents’ Champion and Jack Sears Trophy winner Butcher fourth on the starting grid amongst the 29 protagonists behind the wheel of his Speedworks Motorsport-run, British-built Toyota Corolla GR Sport, barely two tenths-of-a-second shy of the top spot.
Having put 37 laps on the board during free practice, stablemate Sam Smelt improved his best effort by almost a quarter-of-a-second in qualifying, but such is the calibre of competition in Britain’s premier motor racing series, that only equated to 24th on the grid.
On race day, Butcher staved off championship leader Ash Sutton successfully to secure a well-deserved fourth-place finish in the opener, before taking fifth in the second bout following a no-holds-barred duel with Tom Ingram.
He added to that another top six in the day’s finale, running in the lead group throughout to cement the fifth-highest score of the weekend and vault from 11th up to seventh in the Drivers’ classification.
“Thruxton is an epic circuit, and it poses a unique challenge for drivers and teams,” said Butcher. “Overall, we came away from Thruxton with a great points haul and a lot learned.
“Huge thanks to the team for everybody’s hard work, which really paid off. Some weekends you’ll get a win and a pole position, some others it’s a crash and a DNF. In-between weekends like this are the ones you might not remember, but they can turn out to be every bit as important in the long run…”
In the other side of the Toyota Gazoo Racing UK garage, a couple of tough races for Smelt forced him out of contention, either side of a 22nd place in the second contest which represented his best result of the day.
“First of all, I have to say that it was really rewarding to get some solid points finishes on the board at Thruxton,” confirmed Christian Dick, Team Principal, Toyota Gazoo Racing UK. We knew from earlier in the season – and previous years – that the Corolla is quick there, so it was up to us to really exploit that potential and Rory delivered a strong performance all weekend.
“His defence of his position against Sutton in race one and Ingram in races two and three was absolutely mighty, and he and the whole team thoroughly deserved the results we achieved. In my mind, it was Rory’s most complete weekend since joining us.
“Unfortunately, Sam’s run of bad luck in the sister car continued. In two of the three races, he was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time and got caught up in somebody else’s accident. His pace after rejoining in race one went to show what he is capable of, so our chief focus now is on helping him to improve his qualifying form to allow him to fight for points on a regular basis.”