The Speedworks Motorsport-run Toyota Gazoo Racing UK squad is hoping to keep its momentum going when it tackles its home round of the British Touring Car Championship at Oulton Park this weekend.
The Cheshire-based team heads to its home round having scored consistent results with both Rory Butcher and Ricky Collard last time out at Thruxton, and whilst George Gamble failed to make the points, all at the team feel progress is being made.
Incredibly, Oulton Park has been the Speedworks team’s worst circuit for results since it joined the BTCC – it took until 2021 for the team to even score a podium at the circuit, when Butcher also claimed the team’s first ‘home’ win.
However, Butcher then scored another podium finish last year, with both the Scot and team-mate Collard in the top ten all weekend, showing that the team has turned its local fortunes around. Collard could also have scored a podium last year, but for a penalty due to being out of position at the start.
“Every race weekend obviously offers the same amount of points, but Oulton Park is always a special one for us, as we receive so much support from friends, family and sponsors,” said Team Principal Christian Dick.
“It’s funny – despite being our home track and less than ten miles down the road from the Speedworks workshop, for years, we simply couldn’t catch a break there, but the past couple of seasons have been much better, so the goal has to be to keep that positive momentum going.
“We’ve taken consistent steps forward in recent races, and we know from previous campaigns that the Corolla performs well at Oulton.
“All three drivers have impressive records there, too – like Thruxton last time out, it’s a circuit that calls for maximum bravery and commitment, and there’s certainly no shortage of that inside the team. We’re looking forward to it!”
Butcher enjoys racing around the picturesque circuit, and the 36-year-old Scot stressed the importance of qualifying on Saturday due to the challenges of overtaking at Oulton.
“Oulton Park is one of my favourite circuits on the BTCC calendar,” said Butcher. “It’s a tremendous challenge to drive and hugely rewarding when you get it right, particularly in qualifying, where you really need to attack the lap.
“Saturday afternoon is arguably the most crucial moment of the weekend there, since the track is so narrow that overtaking in the races is a real art, so focussing on single-lap speed will be high on the agenda and advancing to the top ten shootout will be key.
“The fast, flowing layout is not only a lot of fun but also favours a well-sorted chassis, which is unquestionably what we have in the Corolla, and we were solidly in the hunt there in both 2021 and 2022.
“In fact, I’ve finished on the podium at Oulton four times in the past three years, so I’ll be giving it everything I’ve got to try to extend that run this weekend.”
Collard is already enjoying a stronger start to the season than last year, and having finished all three races at Thruxton in the points, is confident going to the circuit where last year he finished all three races inside the top ten.
“It really feels like we’ve begun building some momentum in recent weeks,” added the 26-year-old. “Thruxton was a very positive weekend in general, and we’re making progress every time out.
“We know the pace is in the package to push for race wins – we proved that at Brands Hatch last month – so it’s a case of figuring out how to unlock that on a consistent basis, but we’re definitely getting closer.
“I’ve always enjoyed racing at Oulton Park, and it was probably the first circuit where I really began to ‘click’ with the Corolla last year and challenge for strong results.
“I’ve made no secret of the fact that I don’t want to be fighting for fifth or sixth place anymore – I want to win – and after all the hard work that everybody in the team has put in this season, it’d be amazing to reward the Speedworks guys and girls with a trophy or two at their home track.”