Toyota Gazoo Racing UK’s Rory Butcher was left to rue ‘unquestionably a missed opportunity’ at Knockhill, after the Scot was involved in a race two incident that curtailed his weekend chances.
Heading into Knockhill, Butcher had been hoping to carry the momentum to his home circuit after tasting victory last time out at Oulton Park.
Having won at the circuit for each of the previous two seasons, Butcher had expected to be on the pace. However, an electrical issue curtailed his running in the weekend’s first practice session, and come qualifying Butcher put in the eighth fastest time.
In the thick of the race one battles, Butcher brought his Toyota Corolla home in ninth, after losing out to fellow Scot Gordon Shedden on lap four to drop him to tenth before he pipped Tom Ingram on the final lap.
In race two, Butcher was running in ninth after a close battle with Ingram when he then sought to pass Aiden Moffat on the following lap. Contact between the pair at the first corner then pitched Butcher into the barriers and out of the race.
That resulted in a back row starting position for race three on the medium compound tyre, from where the 34-year-old could only climb back up to 20th to cap off a disappointing weekend on home soil, although he did back a bonus point for posting the fastest lap in the process.
“Sometimes the dice just don’t roll your way,” reflected Butcher. “Knockhill was unquestionably a missed opportunity for us, which was a real shame as the potential was clear to see.
“We began the weekend with a similar set-up to the one that had served us so well at Oulton Park, but it just didn’t transfer, and we had to do quite a lot of work to get the Corolla into the right window.
“We then had the electrical gremlins in FP1 – which have actually been haunting us all year and have caused the team no end of headaches – but we believe we managed to find the root of the problem between the two practice sessions.
“Qualifying was one of those sessions where you kept thinking back afterwards, ‘what could I have done better?’ It all came down to the smallest of margins, and even just something like a mis-shift was enough to drop you down the order.
“I didn’t quite get the most out of the car, because there was definitely a top four slot in it, and that gave us more work to do on Sunday.”
Butcher lamented not being able to escape the mid-pack battles around the short Scottish circuit.
“It isn’t easy to overtake at Knockhill – you’ve either got to try to force the driver ahead into a mistake or be very aggressive and really commit to the pass – and it felt like we were constantly in a see-saw battle that we couldn’t drag ourselves out of.
“We were finally starting to move forward in race two, and then obviously it all went horribly wrong…
“That was super unfortunate, and if it hadn’t happened, we might very well have started the last race from the front row of the grid, from where I would definitely have fancied my chances of extending my winning run at Knockhill.
“As it was, race three was really scrappy back in the pack, but at least we got to show what the Corolla is capable of with the fastest lap – and on the medium tyres, too.
“The car felt very different by the end of the weekend to how it had done at the start, so that’s certainly a positive to take away.”
Team Principal Christian Dick described the incident with Moffat as ‘one of those things’.
“It’s notoriously difficult to make a break at Knockhill because for every move you successfully pull off, a failed attempt can send you right back to square one,” said Dick.
“He was going in the right direction and we looked to be in the box seat for a solid race three grid slot until the accident with Aiden.
“It was just one of those things that can happen when you’re racing at such close quarters around a tight-and-twisty circuit, and it robbed us of the opportunity to potentially challenge for a win at the end of the day, which Rory’s speed in race three proved he was very capable of achieving.
“I must pay tribute to the entire Speedworks crew for a stellar repair job – for that same car that had been buried in the barriers to return to the track and set fastest lap only a couple of hours later is glowing testament to each and every one of them.”
Butcher now sits 11th overall in the drivers’ championship standings at the halfway stage of the season with 102 points to his name, 70 adrift of the top of the table.