Rory Butcher was full of praise for the Motorbase Performance squad after he secured a maiden pole position for the Ford Focus ST in qualifying for race one of the British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch.
The Scot had shown flashes of pace throughout practice – placing third and fifth in the first and second sessions respectively – but suffered a front-left tyre puncture during second practice which hampered his running.
Despite this, Butcher managed to bounce back in qualifying to score the first pole position for the new-for-2020 Focus ST with his time of time of 1:31.111 on only his fourth lap of the session.
“I believed going into that session that I could fight for pole, and I really gee’d myself up,” Butcher told ITV.
“I gave everything on that one lap, and I don’t think I had anything else in the tank for the second run.
“You saw everything there.”
Carrying 42kg of championship ballast by virtue of a successful weekend at Donington Park on which he secured a double podium, Butcher was full of praise for the team and noted the car has shown huge potential ever since it first hit the track pre-season.
The qualifying result backed up Butcher’s praise, with Motorbase stablemate Ollie Jackson enjoying his best ever BTCC qualifying in third position.
“The car from the moment we drove it in our first test in March it’s given me the feedback that it was a competitive package,” he said.
“We didn’t get the most out of it at Donington [Park] in qualifying, I made a mistake, but we put things right there.
“First pole position with the new car, it feels fantastic. I think it just shows what a fantastic job everyone in the team have done, designing and building this new Ford Focus ST.”
With heat a real factor this weekend as temperatures and humidity are high in Kent, Butcher believes it will be “very difficult” to keep up stamina and concentration across the trio of races at Brands Hatch.
“Its’s going to be very difficult. Laying down two or three laps like that is not easy, and in the race when you’ve got pressure from guys behind in your mirrors, it’s only going to make it worse,” he said.
“I think the key is to try and stay cool, keep hydrated and try to last all day.”
With back-to-back weekends the norm throughout August, Butcher again praised the team in terms of preparation in what is a much shorter turnaround between races than in previous seasons.
“As a driver I’ve definitely felt additional pressure, but that’s nothing compared to what the actual teams are having to put up with because they’re transporting the cars back on the Sunday night,” he said.
“First thing on the Monday morning they’re getting them out into the workshop and these cars take a long time to prep or re-prep for the next event.
“We don’t normally see a turnaround so fast but I think because we’ve had this lockdown to prepare for it I think the guys got mentally prepared and they were ready for it.”
The opening race at Brands Hatch is scheduled to get underway tomorrow at 10:50 BST.