Rory Butcher says there is ‘cause for encouragement’ after Thruxton, despite the Toyota Gazoo Racing UK driver failing to score in two of the weekend’s three British Touring Car Championship races.
Butcher had qualified his Toyota Corolla in fifth in a wet-but-drying Saturday qualifying session, giving the Scot hopes of a strong race day.
Butcher had in fact been top of the times in qualifying until the final few seconds, when a flurry of lap times on slick tyres demoted the Speedworks driver, who was himself held up in traffic on his final attempt.
Race one saw Butcher convert his starting position into a solid fifth place result, bagging important points in the first race of the season as he withstood pressure from Jason Plato.
In race two, after the race was restarted following an initial red flag period, Butcher was caught out by cold tyres whilst running in third on the first lap of the restarted race, crashing heavily into the barriers on the exit of Noble and out of the race.
After an impressive repair job by Speedworks mechanics for race three, Butcher started from the back of the grid and had been closing in on the points when he was innocently taken out by the spinning Carl Boardley on the penultimate lap of the race.
“Despite the disappointing outcome, I genuinely feel there was a lot of cause for encouragement at Thruxton,” said Butcher. “I’ve got my starts dialled in now in the Corolla and I learnt more about the car throughout, but it just didn’t translate into the results we deserved.
“We had a very steady first race and collected some decent points, which was our goal, and I definitely feel like we improved the car for race two, but the accident obviously put paid to our hopes of another good score.
“It was just unfortunate; I lost the rear through Noble and couldn’t gather it back up. That was frustrating, because I’d made a good start and was confident I could go on the attack.
“In race three, we then got caught up in another driver’s incident, which clearly wasn’t the way we wanted to end the weekend.
“As I came around the corner, Boardley was rolling backwards and in that kind of situation, you make a split-second decision, but he accelerated straight into my path. It is what it is.
“Let’s keep our heads up and move on. I feel like the car is giving me all the right feedback, so next time out, I want to exploit that good feeling and get some results for myself and the team.”
Christian Dick, Team Principal of Toyota Gazoo Racing UK, was pleased by the performance of the Toyota Corolla drivers at the weekend, with Butcher’s team-mate Sam Smelt finishing all three races and picking up his first points in the process.
“Overall, there are certainly more positives than negatives to take away from Thruxton, and plenty of reasons to be optimistic moving forward,” said Dick.
“Had it not been for a little bit of traffic for Rory on his final lap in qualifying, we could have been a couple of spots further up the grid or maybe even on pole.
“Although we went slightly too conservative on the set-up for race one, we were happy to come away with a fifth-place finish.
“We made some adjustments for the next one and the car looked racy, but the long pause after the red flag meant Rory lost temperature in the rear tyres and that caught him out.
“The team worked so hard to get the Corolla ready again for race three, but we didn’t have time to put any real set-up on it, so the aim was simply to drive around in the hope of picking up some points.
“He was getting closer and closer, but then he was just a passenger in somebody else’s accident.”