Gunning for glory at Brands Hatch GP: Toyota trio target strong season finish
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK is Brands Hatch-bound this weekend (7/8 October) for the final thrilling instalment of the 2023 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship campaign; Rory Butcher, Ricky Collard and George Gamble strive to sign off the season in style at one of it’s most legendary venues.
The team already tackled Brands’ short Indy layout during the BTCC’s second event of the season in May (6/7), when Collard took the chequered flag first, following an exciting duel with three-time champion Ash Sutton (NAPA Racing UK). However, a track limits penalty demoted him from the top spot.
The TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK trio are now preparing to take on the much longer and more challenging ‘GP’ loop, which played host to Formula 1’s British Grand Prix on no fewer than 12 occasions between 1964 and 1986.
This year, Collard has scored points on all-bar three occasions in the UK’s premier motor racing series, and he is determined to conclude his sophomore season with the Speedworks Motorsport-run outfit with another strong set of results.
Like the Surrey born racer, Butcher has seen victory slip from his grasp at Brands GP, when he picked up a puncture less than three laps from home in 2020. That proved to be the catalyst for a searing charge through the field in the next race.
In the team’s third Corolla, Gamble is hoping for a trouble-free run to fulfil the palpable potential he has shown throughout his first season in front wheel-drive machinery. Like his two team-mates, the 27-year-old from Nottinghamshire boasts an excellent previous record on the ‘GP’ circuit by scooping up silverware in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB, as he raced up the BTCC support series ladder.
Saturday afternoon’s qualifying session will be streamed on ITV Sport’s YouTube channel from 1530, with every moment of Sunday’s doorhandle-to-doorhandle action to be broadcast live and in high-definition on ITV4 from 1045.
Rory Butcher said: “Silverstone was very nearly our most solid weekend of 2023, before a race three shunt got in the way of a punchy opening lap, but things are certainly moving in the right direction now – and after going off the boil a bit during the first part of the year, it’s been so good to jump back in the car recently and feel like the old Rory again.
“The team is doing an incredible job and while there’s still more performance to find, we’re clearly making progress. Brands GP is a circuit I love and the Corolla was super-strong there 12 months ago, so let’s see if we can finish the season with another piece of silverware or two to head off into the winter with a spring in our step.”
Ricky Collard said: “It’s a real privilege to get to drive the ‘GP’ circuit at Brands Hatch. It’s such an awesome old-school challenge – you need to be absolutely on the limit out the back of the lap to really carry the speed from one corner to the next, and it’s immensely rewarding when you get it right.
“We’ve been much more competitive over the second half of the season in general, so hopefully that form will also translate to Brands Hatch – we certainly had great pace on the Indy circuit earlier in the year. Anything can happen on finals day in the BTCC and the weather often throws in the odd curve ball too, so I’m looking forward to getting out there and getting properly stuck in!”
George Gamble said: “I’m really looking forward to Brands GP. It’ll be my first time there in front wheel-drive, but we were competitive on the Indy circuit back in May and I’m excited to put the Toyota through its paces around the full ‘GP’ loop. The Corolla has a cracking chassis, and that should come into its own through the fast, flowing sections.
“I’ve really enjoyed my first season with Toyota Gazoo Racing UK and I’ve made so much progress in terms of adapting to front wheel-drive since we were last at Brands Hatch, so I’m hoping all of our bad luck is now out of the way and that I can finally get a clean weekend to showcase that improvement and turn it into some really strong results.”