Rory Butcher BTTC Reports Round 7 and 8Back to August 2018
After a torrid last event at Snetterton Circuit where we hit rotten luck and scored zero points, it was crucial that we turned things around at Rockingham Motor Speedway for Round 7 of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship.
The Northamptonshire track has been good to me in the past, as I scooped a double race win there in the 2013 Porsche Carrera Cup GB with Celtic Speed. The alternative circuit uses a banked oval with an infield section setting the scene for some epic BTCC racing.
After qualifying 20th place for Sundayi's races I certainly had my work cut out, but luckily for me and my AMD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing squad, the weather was on our side - rain showers were anticipated throughout the event. We really do have our MG 6 dialled in for those tricky conditions!
These unpredictable conditions allowed me to make headway as I carved my way through the field to a 9th place finish in race 1. Then, in race 2 I fought my way to an 8th after getting bashed down the order in the early laps. The result included us in the reverse grid draw for the final race, number 11 was chosen meaning I would start from third place – get in!!
Now at the sharp end, I challenged Chris Smiley for the lead in the early laps. Frustratingly my offence was scuppered by a safety car getting deployed. Following the restart I battled hard with the championship leader Colin Turkington for the final podium spot, eventually slipping down to 6th place just behind Sam Tordoff and Tom Ingram. The goal was to score my first BTCC podium - it wasn’t to be, but I put up one hell of a fight!
It was a cracking day of racing and the team worked extremely hard to get the result - adapting my car to suit the changeable conditions. That’s our biggest points haul of 2018 and we aim to keep this momentum going into my home race next weekend at Knockhill.
Round 8 of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship made its annual visit to Knockhill - the Home of Scottish Motorsport. We were determined to stay focused and continue our run of top results from Rockingham just two weeks ago.
Racing on home soil is a really special experience. It’s an amazing spectacle to be a part of, with the huge crowds packed into the compact venue. The local fans were so supportive and I could feel that over the whole weekend. It’s fantastic that my sponsors, friends and family get the opportunity to watch me race as it’s not always easy to travel to the nine rounds south of the border.
Naturally there’s greater expectation to do well at your local track but this year I managed that as best I could. We have a habit of fighting through the field on race day, so when I qualified 23rd on the grid I put that disappointment to one side. Sunday would be different, especially with the weather forecast.
Raceday was just down right wet and cold, but amazingly it didn’t dampen the spirit of the crowds who came prepared with wellies and umbrellas. I was amazed at how many people stood on the bankings for all three races.
My engineer Danny and I have a good handle on what makes the MG work in the rain so with a few final tweaks to car set up we were ready for battle. We needed to go forward in race 1 but it’s all about balancing the risks.
Race 1 started and the conditions were horrendous. I could hardly see ahead of my bonnet, I just made sure I hit the brake pedal when I saw brake lights light up in front me. I began to make progress through the field one pass at a time. I passed Jack Goff on the brakes into the Duffus Dip and Ricky Collard on the inside of Turn 3, but all my other overtakes were completed at the Hairpin Corner. The stream of water at the turn in point was catching everyone out and as they ran slightly wide, I placed my car up the inside and snuck past . We managed to snatch 10th place with just a few laps to go. The team were buzzing as we were now in a position to fight at the sharp end.
We made up one more place and achieved a 9th place in Race 2 where the conditions were even worse. The organisers stopped the race early which was a good call as we were aqua-planing everywhere. After the race Ash Sutton and Tom Ingram were excluded on technical grounds which meant we were now bumped up by 2 positions.
Starting 7th we had a shot at a top 5 or even a podium in Race 3. The conditions were still wet but much clearer and the racing was really tight between myself, Morgan, Cook and Tordoff. I got past Cook and Tordoff early on then spent the second half of the race chasing Adam Morgan, who was holding 4th. It was like a game of cat and mouse where he would pull a small gap then I’d catch him back up. I was eventually in striking distance with just two laps remaining so I took a chance and made a move into the Hairpin. I got along side him but as he tried to cut back on me, he touched my rear bumper which straightened me up and pushed me a little wide. As I recovered, Adam stayed ahead and frustratingly Tordoff and Cook nipped past dropping me down to 7th. Despite losing out on a top 5 it was an incredible race and I enjoyed sparring with 3 BTCC race winners. This learning curve that I’m on is tough and not always straight forward but once everything clicks together I’m confident we can fight at the sharp end.
I’m so pleased with how my home race turned out - they can sometimes go horribly wrong! I must thank my AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing squad for all their support, they’re really doing a fantastic job and I look forward to getting back on track at Silverstone in mid September.
Thanks to Marc Waller & Dickon Biddall for the tremendous action shots.
- Rory Butcher