Rory Butcher was ‘buzzing’ after again twice standing on the podium in Donington Parks’ British Touring Car Championship races last weekend, helping the Toyota driver to progress in the championship standings.
Butcher went into the penultimate event of the season on a high after his double victory last time out at Silverstone, and in qualifying the Scot was seventh fastest in the first part to gain a spot in the top ten shootout.
However, a failed air jack nearly scuppered his chances in Q2, and when Butcher was able to take to the track, he posted the fourth fastest time.
In race one, the Toyota racer jumped PMR’s Jason Plato for third on the first lap, then stayed in contention for the lead throughout, ultimately taking the chequered flag in the final podium position with 27 kg of success ballast on board, compared to the weight-free cars ahead.
Butcher fought hard with race one winner Gordon Shedden at the start of race two, briefly taking the lead on the opening lap before slotting back in behind his brother-in-law.
As the race progressed, the ballast-free Tom Ingram sailed through the pack and past Butcher, with 57 kg on board, and the 34-year-old had to settle for another third.
Randomly drawn to start race three in ninth on the grid, Butcher made strong progress to end the race in fourth, lifting him to sixth overall in the drivers’ championship, mathematically now out of contention for the overall title although still technically in with a shot of the runner-up spot.
“It was fantastic to come away from Donington with two more podiums,” said Butcher. “We’re definitely building momentum now and have got a really good rhythm going.
“We’ve just kept our heads down and focussed on our own performance, and I’m very proud of everybody in the team.
“The Corolla felt great in qualifying, although it all got a bit stressful in the second part of the session! We went out to warm the tyres up, came back in to cross them over and the air jack failed on me.
“By the time we had sorted that out, there were only four minutes left on the clock and it was a bit of a case of all or nothing. Luckily, I found some clear track and was able to put in a lap time good enough for P4, which gave me a lot of confidence going into Sunday.
“I knew there would be an opportunity to take a risk around the outside of Redgate at the beginning of race one, but I didn’t think I’d have to do it at the Old Hairpin as well!
“Still, I settled into third and felt comfortable where I was. We probably didn’t quite have the pace to attack for second, but I was really happy to get off to a positive start, and that obviously set us up well for the rest of the day.
“I had another good first lap in race two, but Gordon made a superb move down at the Old Hairpin that I really didn’t see coming.
“I then tried to hold off Tom as best as I could, but with no ballast, he was able to just out-brake me and pull away.
“It was tricky fighting against some of the top championship contenders when they weren’t carrying much weight, because they were very fast, but I was absolutely buzzing to score a fourth podium in five starts.
“We made a few more changes and got the Corolla really hooked up for race three, and with everybody ahead of us on the grid being lighter, I gave it a bit more of a push to get through the field.
“The car was consistent and quick, and it was great to sign off with another really strong points finish. I couldn’t be happier.”
Toyota Gazoo Racing UK Team Principal Christian Dick praised Butcher’s efforts again, highlighting how he had been the top scorer in the past two events combined.
“Rory was on phenomenal form once again, picking up from where he had left off at Silverstone by fighting for silverware right from the start,” said Dick.
“He has been comfortably the BTCC’s highest scorer over the past two events, which is testament to the way he is gelling with the Corolla and the effort that every single member of this team has put in to get the car to where it is now.”