Rory Butcher and Toyota Gazoo Racing UK head to Brands Hatch this weekend ‘with a point to prove’ after a difficult season opener last time out in the British Touring Car Championship.
At the Donington Park first meeting, Butcher could only achieve two finishes of tenth and seventh, after he picked up front end damage in the opening race which saw him retire and left to start from 26th for race two.
Despite that, the Toyota driver gained an impressive 16 places in race two to finish tenth, before improving again to end the weekend with a seventh.
Scot Butcher won his first BTCC race at Brands Hatch Indy back in 2019, and he followed that up with another victory at the circuit the following year.
Last year was more challenging with just the one top ten to his name, but Butcher is confident of a strong weekend at the Kent circuit this season.
“There’s a common misconception that being such a short lap, there’s not that much to Brands Hatch Indy, but I would actually argue the opposite,” said Butcher. “Its compact nature makes it even more important to nail every single apex, because with the times always so close, even the smallest error is magnified and therein lies its greatest challenge.
“It has been a happy hunting ground for me in the past. I won the Formula Ford Festival there in 2009 and my first BTCC race in 2019, and it just seems to suit my style.
“We go back this year with a bit of a point to prove after not achieving what we wanted at Donington due to a failure in qualifying that was beyond our control, but we have an excellent package underneath us in the Toyota Corolla and a fantastic team spirit.
“One of the key differences with hybrid this season is that it has eradicated the up-and-down inevitability of race weekends that the success ballast system used to generate.
“Now, if you can start towards the front in race one, you have every possibility of scoring well in all three races – and that’s exactly what we intend to do at Brands Hatch.”
Team Principal Christian Dick believes that Butcher and team-mate Ricky Collard can score strong results at Brands Hatch Indy, as both drivers have strong form at the short circuit.
“Although the results at Donington Park evidently didn’t live up to either our expectations or the potential we displayed, we nonetheless left in bullish mood that we are on the right path,” said Dick.
“Rory made up no fewer than 16 positions in race two, while Ricky lit up the timing screens in free practice and proved his overtaking prowess in the day’s finale.
“On his first weekend in a front wheel-drive car, to get a full race distance under his belt was key, and he will be all the stronger for that at Brands Hatch.
“Donington was also the first time any of us in the BTCC had used hybrid power in a competitive situation, and it certainly added an extra element of strategy to the equation.
“Toyota is renowned as a pioneer when it comes to hybrid technology, and we will need to take full advantage of the 15 seconds of ‘boost’ available to us in qualifying at Brands to put our two Corollas as far up the grid as possible.
“From there, the target will be three solid race finishes, and provided we can steer clear of drama, we know that both drivers and the car are more than capable of doing battle for the leading positions.
“The Indy Circuit is a track that has smiled upon us in the past, so we’ve got to be aiming for some silverware to really make our mark on the 2022 season and kick-start our title challenge.”