Rory Butcher feels that he has not yet been able to show his true pace in this year’s British Touring Car Championship, after the Toyota driver had to battle with more challenges at Brands Hatch.
Butcher went into the second meeting of the year hoping for a more plain-sailing weekend after a tricky season opener in April.
The Scot endured starter motor problems in practice, and the team had to change his car’s ECU just before qualifying.
Despite that, the 35-year-old put his Toyota Corolla in ninth on the grid for race one, just two-and-a-half tenths of a second from pole.
Rain ahead of race one saw most of the field opt for wet tyres, but Butcher gambled and put on slicks, which was almost a disaster as he nearly spun into the barriers on the warm-up lap.
Despite then dropping to the very back of the pack early on in race one, Butcher put on a determined drive as his tyres came into their window, and he surged up the order after repeatedly posting fastest laps.
Butcher made it into fifth on the final lap past BMW’s Colin Turkington, but after he then ran wide a few corners later he took the finish in seventh, up on his starting grid position.
Speaking to TouringCars.Net later in the day, Butcher explained that he felt he could have won the race if only it had been a couple of laps longer.
“It was a risk, but we just felt that with the air temperature, a lot of cars on track and a short lap so lots of laps to do, that it was probably going to dry.
“We took a punt and it kind of worked out – we made up two places overall. I probably had the potential to finish P4 but I threw that away.
“We came out of the car feeling like we could have been in the top five anyway if we’d have gone with wets.
“It was one of those decisions where if there had been another lap we probably could have been on the podium or won the race.”
In race two, Butcher ran with wet tyres and claimed his first podium finish of the season in third, hacing battled with BMW’s Jake Hill and Motorbase’s Dan Cammish throughout.
The final race saw Butcher drawn to start from tenth, and again he battled up through the order to claim fifth at the end, his progress halted by championship leader Tom Ingram directly ahead.
Butcher admitted that the issues the Speedworks team are still having to overcome had been frustrating, and he aspires for a more straightforward weekend next time out at Thruxton.
“We got the podium in race two and we were pretty racey. In race three we had another strong race getting past [Ash] Sutton and then having a good race with Ingram as well.
“I think we’ve got a really strong package, but we’ve really not been able to show our hand yet. We’ve had so many technical issues, it’s been crazy.
“Even in qualifying we lost time due to a technical issue that was out of our hands. But we seem to be able to make up for it on race day at the moment.
“We had an ECU failure just before qualifying and it just meant that things weren’t 100% right because we had to throw it on the car.
“I’m so pleased with the car – it’s feeling great in terms of its handling and the team are doing a great job – so we just need to have a clean weekend and build into the year now.
“Things are going to go wrong – this is a completely new season with different things in the car – the hybrid, a new engine package – so we’re always going to find little niggles here and there, Let’s hope they’re behind us now.”