BTCC: Rory Butcher takes pole at Brands Hatch
Motorbase Performance scored a home pole position at Brands Hatch earlier today (8 August) as Rory Butcher produced a stunning lap during qualifying for Round 4 of the 2020 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship.
Wrotham-based Motorbase built and prepared three Ford Focus STs during the off-season and Butcher is consistently showing the speed and potential of the all-new machines. Having set the fastest lap time during a recent pre-season test at Snetterton, the Scotsman duly followed that up with a double podium at the Donington Park curtain raiser last weekend.
Buoyed by his recent form – but in searing 37 degree temperatures at the legendary Kent circuit – Butcher banked his benchmark 1:31.111s lap early in the session and it wouldn’t be beaten for the remainder of the running.
It soon became a double celebration for the Kent squad as Ollie Jackson secured a sensational third place on the grid for tomorrow’s opening race – his best ever qualifying position by some distance having previously held a career-high of eighth.
Halfords Yuasa Racing’s Dan Cammish was completing his first competitive laps of the fantastic 2.43-mile GP circuit since his now infamous title challenge ended in the barrier with just over a lap of the 2019 season remaining. The super-talented Honda racer immediately buried those memories, however, by squeezing his Civic Type R in-between the two Fords and onto the front row of the grid – impressive considering the success ballast being carried onboard his #27 machine.
Jake Hill topped both Free Practice sessions earlier in the day and the MB Motorsport accelerated by Blue Square driver was a constant threat during qualifying. Such was his pace throughout Saturday, that the local driver was left slightly frustrated to only secure fourth in the order. It has been an extremely encouraging day for Hill and his team, however, as they look to bounce back from a challenging opening weekend at Donington Park.
The Team BMW duo of Colin Turkington and Tom Oliphant had to make do with fifth and sixth respectively, albeit also with significant success ballast on board the two 3 Series’, but the pairing will surely be contenders come race day. Incredibly, the two BMWs set exactly the same lap times during the 30-minute session.
Senna Proctor (EXCELR8 Motorsport) and Tom Ingram (Toyota Gazoo Racing UK with Ginsters) produced solid laps to end up seventh and eighth in the classification, but both were unable to display top-level one lap pace. Both the Hyundai and Toyota outfits have been towards the sharp end of proceedings so far, but seem to be falling slightly short of being considered front row contenders at this very early stage of the season.
BTC Racing’s Josh Cook and Tom Chilton completed the top ten positions as they focus on collecting solid points while the team continue to develop its stealth grey Hondas over the coming weeks.
Rory Butcher said: “I was so focused, I believed going into that session I could fight for pole, I really fired myself up and I think I gave everything on that one lap. I don’t think I had anything else in the tank for the second run; you saw everything there.
“The car from the moment we drove it in our first test in March, it was giving me the feedback that it was a competitive package and we didn’t get the most out of it during qualifying at Donington, but I’ve put things right here. First pole position in the new car feels fantastic and I think it just shows what a fantastic job everyone in the team has done designing and building this new Ford Focus ST.
“It’s going to be very difficult in the heat, laying down 2/3 laps like that isn’t easy and, in the race, when you’ve got pressure from the guys behind in your mirrors, it’s only going to make it worse. But I think the key is to stay cool, keep hydrated and try to last the whole day.”
Rounds 4, 5 and 6 of the 2020 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship take place on the Brands Hatch GP circuit tomorrow (9 August) with all the action being screened live and exclusively on ITV4 from 1020.
2020 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship – Qualifying – Brands Hatch GP
1 Rory BUTCHER (GBR) Motorbase Performance +1:31.111s
2 Dan CAMMISH (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +0.031s
3 Ollie JACKSON (GBR) Motorbase Performance +1.038s
4 Jake HILL (GBR) MB Motorsport accelerated by Blue Square +0.055s
5 Colin TURKINGTON (GBR) Team BMW +0.342s