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Rory Butcher believes ‘everything is looking good’ for title tilt

Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Rory Butcher heads to the British Touring Car Championship season opener at Donington Park this weekend in a confident mood, saying that ‘everything is looking good’ for a championship challenge.

Butcher, 36, was a title contender again in 2022, albeit his season once again gained momentum towards the end of the year, when he was already too far adrift of the top of the drivers’ standings.

The Scot finished 2022 fifth overall in the standings, equalling his overall best classification which he had also achieved in the 2019 and 2020 seasons.

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Butcher has continuity on his side in 2023 – with team-mate Ricky Collard also remaining on board. The team has switched to a Neil Brown Engineering-tuned Toyota engine for this year, and will also benefit from running three cars for the first time, with George Gamble joining the squad.

Last season, Butcher bagged a best finish of seventh at Donington Park, but the year previous he was twice on the podium at the Leicestershire venue. Although he has never won at the circuit, he has been on the podium four times at the circuit in the BTCC.

“We finished last year on a real high and have carried that momentum with us through the winter,” said Butcher.

“The team has worked extremely hard to bring further developments to the Corolla, and I’ve got a positive feeling going into the new season.

“Everything is looking good, but obviously you never know where you truly are until the first qualifying session.

“The aim is to get off to a stronger start than in 2022 and put up a proper fight for the championship.

“Our car really likes high-grip tracks, so I’m hoping the Corolla will be in its element on Donington’s resurfaced asphalt, and I think the return of the ‘option’ tyre will generate some great racing – not to mention plenty of strategic head-scratching when it comes to deciding which tyre to run when.

“Racking up the points is key in the BTCC, and consistency was a big strength of ours last year; if we can consistently finish just a little bit higher in every race, we’ll be right in the mix.

“I’m excited to get going!”

Christian Dick, Team Principal of Toyota Gazoo Racing UK, echoed Butcher’s confidence and says his excitement is higher than ever before.

“This season will be our 13th in the BTCC as a team, and I don’t think I’ve ever felt so excited ahead of the opening round,” said Dick.

“There are a lot of unknowns, of course, both internally and externally from the new engine we are running to the re-introduction of the ‘option’ tyre and tweaks to the hybrid system, but when you combine the form in which we ended 2022 and the relentless work that has gone on behind-the-scenes over the winter to expand to a three-car squad, I honestly think we could be in for our best year yet.

“We have a first-rate driver line-up in Rory, Ricky and George, an excellent chassis in the Corolla and the Toyota-derived engine should eradicate the lack of straight-line speed we struggled with last season, which was unquestionably our Achilles’ heel.

“Donington Park is where the Corolla achieved its first win four years ago, and we are expecting a large turnout again from TMUK [Toyota motor Manufacturing UK] to spur us on.

“Hopefully we can give them a result to really cheer about.”

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