TOYOTA GAZOO RACING UK GOES ‘FULL ATTACK’ MODE FOR THRUXTON
This weekend (28/29 May) sees the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship return to the fastest race circuit in the UK for the third outing of the 2022 season at the high-speed Hampshire-based Thruxton.
Chesire-based Speedwords Motorsport – the team behind the Toyota GAZOO Racing UK BTCC programme – has previously achieved five podiums at the 2.36-mile track, including an impressive double victory for the British-built Toyota Corolla GR Sport three years ago, in addition to a pole position and multiple fastest laps.
Scottish driver Rory Butcher has previously received silverware at Thruxton, claiming the second podium of his BTCC career there in 2019 and repeating that success the following season.
In 2021, Butcher made a competitive debut in the Corolla, crossing the chequered flag in fifth and following with a trio of top six finishes three months later when the championship returned.
The Kirkcaldy-born driver is heading into this race weekend on a high, after securing his and the team’s first rostrum result of the 2022 campaign at Brands Hatch Indy a fortnight ago. Third-generation racing driver Ricky Collard is aiming to perform well in his first competitive outing at Thruxton in the BTCC, with the support of a home crowd at his local circuit. His previous visit to the Hampshire circuit was in MSA Formula back in 2015, and saw Collard snatch second place from current McLaren Formula One driver Lando Norris before achieving the fastest lap.
“Our results last time out gave the whole team a lift,” said Team Principal Christian Dick. “Having worked their socks off at Donington Park for very little reward, to leave Brands Hatch with our first podium finish of the season and a very solid haul of points was a real fillip for everybody involved.
“We now go to a circuit where we have performed very well in the past, and where the Corolla is a proven winner. This might be our fourth year with the car, but we are continuing to learn more about it and refine it every time we take to the track – and after being held back by issues outside of our control on Saturdays so far this season, the pace Rory displayed on race day at Brands underscores what he will be capable of when he gets a trouble-free run.
“The same goes for Ricky, who has been repeatedly stung by bad luck over the first two outings of 2022, but whose raw speed is unquestionable. He is putting in a tremendous effort behind-the-scenes on every aspect of his preparation, and I am very confident that big results are just around the corner for him. They say that fortune favours the brave, and Thruxton definitely does – so our strategy this weekend will be full attack right from the word ‘go’!”
“You can never be completely confident heading to Thruxton because it’s easy to get on the wrong side of it and it does have a tendency to bite,” added Butcher. “But I’d say this is probably the most upbeat I’ve ever felt going there. I honestly believe that without the problems we encountered on Saturday at Brands Hatch, we would have been in the mix for a front row start – and our pace the next day backed that up, which was hugely positive.
“Other people are going to have bad weekends like we had at Donington, so we’ve just got to keep focussing on our own job and hopefully all of the niggling issues that have cropped up with the new components this year are behind us now. We want to be up at the sharp end and bagging some big points, and I think we have everything required to achieve that. Once we get a clean run, there will be no holding us back!”
“Being my home circuit, I always look forward to going to Thruxton, although I’ve not actually competed there since 2015,” admitted Collard. “This will be my first time racing around the track in a touring car, and I’m massively excited to get out there in the Corolla. We’ve had a difficult start to the season due to a number of problems not of our own making, but I’m really enjoying driving the Toyota and based on previous form, it should be very quick this weekend.
“Thruxton is such a challenging circuit – all balls-out bravery with very little margin for error – and one that I love driving. I’ve gone well there before, and given we will be returning to the track later in the summer, it will be even more important than usual to establish a good set-up this weekend and achieve some strong results, so that we can hit the ground running and really build upon that in August. Like I say, we’ve had a tough run so far this year, but now it’s time to turn things around!”