Toyota’s Rory Butcher says he is ‘full of confidence’ for this weekend’s British Touring Car Championship races at Croft, following a trio of top five finishes last time out including a podium visit.
Butcher had his best weekend of the season thus far in Cheshire just over a week ago, with the Scot qualifying on the front row of the grid before claiming a podium finish and following it up with two more top five results.
Consequently, he heads to North Yorkshire in high spirits for this weekend’s races. That comes despite the fact that Butcher has never previously had a podium finish at the circuit – his best result being fifth in 2020.
Indeed, Butcher has only ever had two top ten results at Croft, although last year his form was stymied by an engine issue in qualifying which put him at the back of the grid for the opening race.
Butcher had been fastest in the first practice session in 2021 and third in the next session, and in addition to that, recent testing by Speedworks Motorsport at the circuit has fuelled their confidence.
“I love Croft,” said Butcher, who scored a double victory at the circuit in the Porsche Carrera Cup back in 2012. “I’d almost go so far as to call it a second ‘home’ event for me. It’s the first track over the border, and we invariably see a bunch of people coming down from Scotland to watch.
“I’ll have friends and family in the crowd and quite a few sponsors there too, so I really want to put on a good show and I think we will.
“We’re full of confidence after Oulton Park, where we were super-consistent, which is hugely important in the BTCC.
“We might not have been the outright quickest in the field on race day, but we were always there-or-thereabouts and we came away with a lot of points. We also learned a lot over the course of the day and definitely finished in a stronger place than where we’d begun.
“Hopefully we can take that improvement forward with us to Croft. The Corolla worked really well round there last year – everything just flowed, and the lap times came so easily – and the balance of the car felt amazing again in our pre-season test at the track.
“With its heavy braking zones and slow-speed corners where you need a lot of front-end grip, it’s a circuit that really plays to the Corolla’s key strengths of braking performance and traction.
“I think we also unlocked something in the high-speed sections at Oulton, which should help through the middle part of the lap at Croft.
“When I have a good feeling, it usually translates into a good weekend, so we’re certainly eyeing another very strong set of results.”
Team Principal Christian Dick pointed to the team’s previous single-lap form at the circuit – including a near pole position in 2020 before then-driver Tom Ingram was stripped of the top time for a ride height failure – as reasons to be optimistic this weekend.
“We go to Croft in a very positive frame of mind after our results at Oulton Park,” said Dick. “Following a tough start to the season, to see both cars finish inside the top ten in all three races was massively rewarding for the entire team, and showed that all the hard work everybody is putting in day-in, day-out is now really paying off.
“We tested at Croft a few months ago, which went very well, and we know from previous experience that the Corolla is well-suited to the track – even if the racing gods haven’t always smiled upon us there.
“Two years ago, a broken wishbone caused a post-qualifying ride-height failure that cost us pole position, and we were denied another likely shot at pole last season by the engine failure for Rory.
“On both occasions, we have fought back strongly on race day, with a win in the final race in 2020 and then of course Rory’s spectacular drive up the order last year.
“I see no reason why we shouldn’t be just as competitive again this time around – albeit hopefully with less drama in qualifying and a slightly more straightforward weekend!”