BUTCHER TARGETS TITLE IN SECOND SEASON WITH TOYOTA GAZOO RACING UK
Rory Butcher has the biggest prize in national motor racing firmly in his sights in 2022, after recommitting to Toyota Gazoo Racing UK for a second consecutive campaign in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship.
A former Independents’ Champion and Jack Sears Trophy winner, Butcher has been a consistent contender in recent seasons, and last year – his first behind the wheel of the Toyota Corolla GR Sport – he further consolidated his status as one of the BTCC’s leading lights.
A trio of victories – including a commanding double at Silverstone – increased the Scotsman’s career tally to nine. Three further rostrum appearances then secured him seventh in the overall standings amongst the 35 high-calibre protagonists – a field including some of the finest touring car drivers in the world.
Indeed, Butcher was the championship’s third-highest scorer over the final three weekends of the campaign as the combination of the 34-year-old Kirkcaldy native and the British-built Corolla proved potent.
That leaves both driver and team feeling bullish about their prospects heading into 2022, when the BTCC will introduce hybrid technology for the first time, replacing the outgoing success ballast system and offering competitors temporary bursts of extra power to assist with overtaking and defending during races.
The 30-round season begins on 23/24 April at Donington Park in Leicestershire, home turf for the Corolla, which is produced at Toyota Motor Manufacturing UK (TMUK) in nearby Burnaston.
Every moment of the doorhandle-to-doorhandle action will be broadcast live and in high-definition on ITV4, with Butcher’s Toyota Gazoo Racing UK stablemates set to be unveiled in due course, as two-time BTCC Independent Teams’ title-winner Speedworks Motorsport expands to a three-car entry for the first time.
“Rory had a great first year with us in 2021 and, by the end of it, he was a regular front-runner in the Corolla,” said Team Principal Christian Dick. “It made perfect sense to extend our partnership into a second season, when the goalposts will very naturally shift as we look to challenge for the championship.
“He is a first-rate driver with an impeccable work ethic. It inevitably took him a little bit of time to feel completely comfortable in the Toyota, but he was on the podium in only his second weekend in the car and took a brilliant first win at Oulton Park – helping us to break our bad luck hoodoo at our home track – and over the second half of the campaign, he was a match for anybody else out there.
“Although he has only been competing in the series for a handful of years, Rory undoubtedly has all the qualities required to be a BTCC champion, and we look forward to fighting for many more victories together over the coming months.”
“I’m absolutely delighted to be returning to the BTCC for my fifth full season in the championship,” added Butcher. “To be coming back with the same team and car is a first for me, and that continuity can only be a positive – especially as we head into the new hybrid era, with all the changes that will entail. Not needing to gel with different people or a different car will be one less thing to have to worry about, and it means we can put everything we’ve learned together so far to good use.
“I made no secret of the fact that it took me a little while to completely get to grips with the Corolla last year; there was a lot to adapt to but once we ‘clicked’, we were quick pretty much everywhere, which fills me with a lot of confidence going forward. We know we still have a few areas that need ironing out to fully maximise the car’s potential, but we have so much data to draw upon and with the pre-season development we have planned, there’s no reason at all why we shouldn’t be pushing for wins at every circuit.
“Considering what we achieved over the second half of 2021 in particular and the experience and knowledge we have gained, the target has to be to hit the ground running at Donington Park in April and then go into the final event at Brands Hatch in October with a fighting chance of taking the title. That will obviously be no easy task in a series as ultra-competitive as the BTCC, but Speedworks is a fantastic team and when we get the Toyota really in the window, it feels like nobody can touch us.”