Rory Butcher is ‘excited’ for this weekend’s British Touring Car Championship visit to Thruxton, where he is hoping to be able to use his increased experience in his Toyota Corolla to fight at the front.
A challenging visit to his home circuit at Knockhill two weeks’ ago saw the Scot pick up just one top ten finish, as he ultimately slipped outside of the top ten in the drivers’ championship standings.
Despite now being 70 points off the championship lead, Butcher is still optimistic of mounting a title challenge in the second half of the season, citing the fact that Colin Turkington picked up 49 points, the third highest of the season, having arrived at Knockhill with just 15 kg of ballast.
This weekend the Toyota Gazoo Racing UK driver will be free of ballast going into qualifying and race one, and combined with the fact that Butcher was challenging for a podium finish in the first visit to the circuit back in May, he remains confident of a strong weekend.
“I’m excited to go back to Thruxton,” said Butcher. “We were competitive there in May, so the plan is very much to reproduce that form if not better, and there’s no reason at all why we shouldn’t achieve that.
“I’ve made no secret of the fact that I feel so much more at home in the Corolla now, and we’re continuing to make progress every time we take to the track.
“It’ll be good to return to a circuit we’ve already raced at this season, but with a car that is far more suited to my driving style and what I need from it.
“Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean we are going to hit the ground running straightaway, because the temperature and track conditions could be very different this weekend, but we do know that whatever is thrown at us, we now have enough tools in our back pocket to make the car quick.
“One benefit of not scoring well last time is that we’re not carrying any ballast, and whilst that’s clearly not ideal from a championship perspective, you only have to look at the points haul that Colin took away from Knockhill after arriving with not much weight on-board to appreciate what is possible.
“We’re just waiting for that weekend where everything finally clicks, and we’re getting closer all the time.”
Christian Dick, Team Principal of Toyota Gazoo Racing UK, echoed Butcher’s confidence, also highlighting recent successes by Butcher which included a first win in Toyota machinery at Oulton Park and posting the fastest lap of the race in the final encounter at Knockhill, after Butcher crashed out of the earlier race and started from the back of the grid.
“We’re all very much looking forward to going back to Thruxton this weekend,” said Dick. “The last time we were there, nether Rory nor Sam [Smelt] had that many miles under their belts in the Corolla, but they both nonetheless delivered a strong performance, which gives us plenty of encouragement as we prepare to return.
“The intervening months have allowed us to really refine and develop the car, equipping us with much more data and a far better understanding of how to adapt it to each driver’s specific requirements.
“The past three race weekends have yielded a win and two fastest laps, which proves the Corolla’s pace and potential, and we saw back in May that it is well-suited to Thruxton and that both Rory and Sam are capable of extracting the very best out of it round there.
“Our results at Knockhill fell some way below expectations, but that only motivates us even more to dig deeper than ever and push for the podium with what we know is a very quick car.
“They say fortune favours the brave and Thruxton certainly rewards a bold approach – and we’re ready to adopt an aggressive strategy as we embark upon the second half of the season.”