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Rory Butcher: ‘At times, it felt like we were playing snakes and ladders!’

Rory Butcher endured an up-and-down weekend in the British Touring Car Championship at Croft, having been forced to battle his way through the field to earn a solitary top ten result in race three.

After qualifying in just 18th on Saturday, just over a second from pole, due to a ‘badly-timed red flag’, Butcher was up against it in race one on Sunday.

The Scot had made his way up to 13th before his progress was halted at the half-way stage by a power steering issue. Although the team fixed the issue and Butcher rejoined, he was classified in just 25th, two laps down.

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With an even more unfavourable starting position for race two, Butcher had made it up to 14th, but misfortune again struck as he was handed a ten-second time penalty for a false start, leaving him in 18th.

Butcher then saved his best until last, as he gained nine places in the final race of the day on the medium compound tyre – five on the opening lap – to finish the race in eighth.

That meant he stayed ahead of team-mate Ricky Collard in the drivers’ championship standings leaving the North Yorkshire circuit, with Butcher sitting ninth overall, six points ahead of Collard.

“That was a weekend of ‘what could have been’,” said Butcher. “We approached the second half of the season with a fresh mindset and we had a good feeling in practice, but a red flag in qualifying when I was on my fastest lap robbed us of a top eight starting slot.

“At times in the races, it felt like we were playing snakes and ladders! It’s difficult to pass at Croft due to the nature of the circuit, but we gained five positions in race one on the hard tyres until we had to pit and then drove from the back of grid to 13th in race two, only to pick up a ten-second penalty for a false start after the car next to me jumped the gun and I reacted.

“The Toyota was super racy in the last one and we made up another ten places, so despite not scoring that many points over the weekend, there were certainly positives, and we can be pleased with our ability to fight through the field.”

Team Principal Christian Dick, lamented the team’s bad luck over the course of the Croft weekend.

“The BTCC is such a competitive championship that in order to succeed, you need everything to go right – when things start to go against you, it can get very difficult,” added Dick.

“All three drivers performed extremely well at Croft, but the fact of the matter is that for a variety of reasons, the cards just didn’t fall our way.

“Saturday was a mixed day. It began very positively in practice, but qualifying was frustrating due to the red flag and some track limits infringements that pushed us down the order.

“That was a tough pill to swallow, but we knew we had good pace and with mixed tyre strategies, we were confident of moving forward on Sunday.

“Ricky was on great form in the first two races but was denied a shot at an even better result in the last one by the oil spillage, while for Rory and George [Gamble], the day followed pretty much the opposite pattern, as Lady Luck refused to shine on them in races one and two but they both charged into the top ten in race three.

“To finish with all three cars inside the points marked a more encouraging end to the weekend, and we will take away the lessons learned and come back stronger.”

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