BTCC – Rory Butcher ReportBack to July 2018
Croft Circuit played host to Round 5 of the MSA Dunlop British Touring Car Championship, a track that’s a little closer to home. After hitting rock bottom at Oulton Park in the MG two weeks before with a startline-shunt, we were determined to get back to our points scoring ways. I have good memories of Croft. The Yorkshire track was home to my maiden pole position and race win in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB, back in 2012 with Celtic Speed.
We got things off to a positive start by setting the 7th quickest lap time in practice, before securing 13th spot on grid in qualifying. We have been strong over race distances this year, but have been searching for more pace on a single lap and it looks like we have made a step forward. No driver is ever content with 13th place, but it put me in a strong position to bag some points on race day.
It seemed good fortune was on my side as ITV selected my car to be fitted with onboard cameras. Paul O'Neill interviewed me on the grid for Race 2, and David Ellison spoke to me during the green flag lap on Race 3. Great exposure for myself and all my valued sponsors!
The sun was out in full force pushing track temperatures to exceed 40 degrees C. Sunday was going to push tyre degradation to the limit, and play an integral part in race strategy. In the opening race I managed to bring the car home in 13th - my starting position - while on the hard option tyre. In the second race I was able to finish 10th, giving me a chance at the reverse grid, but unfortunately I just missed out as P9 was picked out of the hat!
Race 3 was the toughest of them all as the day reached its peak temperature. My MG showed good pace in the initial laps, and I was putting pressure on Dan Cammish in the Honda while extending the gap to Aiden Moffat in his Mercedes. As we reached the 10 lap marker, I could just feel the tyres starting to go off. Dan started to edge away, while Aiden slowly reeled me in. I was now just surviving, positioning the car so I could hold off the pack behind. Adam Morgan and Rob Collard drove past me like I was on ice. Last corner, last lap and Matt Simpson hit my rear almost spinning me, but I held on by my finger tips to finish 13th overall.
I've never been so relieved to see a chequered flag. One more lap and I would have been out of the points. There is always a trade off when setting up a car - it looks like with our one lap pace improving, we were harder on the tyres over a longer distance!
That's the 2018 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship now at the half point with a 5 week break. At the end of July we head to Snetterton Circuit for the 60th Anniversary event.