Scotsman Rory Butcher will make his Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship debut on home soil at Knockhill this coming weekend, with the 30-year-old confirmed as part of the Team Shredded Wheat Racing with DUO line-up for the remainder of the Motorbase-run squad’s 2017 campaign.
Butcher re-joins the Motorbase fold having previously raced as part of David Bartrum’s British GT and Blancpain Endurance Cup crew in 2014 and 2015.
Although new to touring cars, the Fife-based driver has extensive international sports-car experience with numerous wins and podiums to his name; and also has first-hand knowledge of the TOCA package from his time competing in the Porsche Carrera Cup where he secured 5 race wins and 19 podiums on his way to claiming 3rd in the Championship in 2013.
“As soon as we knew that we had to get the third car back out for Knockhill onwards, Rory became our natural choice for the seat;” said Team Principal David Bartrum. “Rory is a Motorbase driver through and through; he’s done a lot with us in GT racing, we know him very well and he knows Knockhill very well which was a huge plus as it’s the first test for the new car.
Following Luke Davenport’s catastrophic crash at Croft at the end of June, Motorbase were forced to complete the build of a replacement car in time for this weekend’s upcoming meeting at Knockhill in order to keep hold of all its TBLs (touring car licence). Incredibly, the sixth Ford Focus ST chassis has been completed from start to finish in just over 4 weeks and Butcher is expected to make the shakedown at Ford’s test track in Dunton, Essex on Wednesday (August 9) where the #6 machine will turn a wheel for the first time before the team makes its way North.
“Considering the size of the accident at Croft, we were hoping that TOCA would be a bit more respectful of Luke’s condition regarding the third car whilst he was still recovering in hospital and also of our position with the timescales involved;” Bartrum explained. “However, it was made very clear that there was no leeway at all in regards to losing our third licence so we had no choice. Ideally, we would have liked to have been given until Rockingham to ready the car, but luckily – thanks in no small part to Alex at DUO – we’ve managed to hit the deadline set by Alan Gow.”
“The boys in the workshop have done a monumental job to get the new car built and ready in time for this weekend. I owe a big thank you to Richard Townsend and Willie Poole for their efforts on this because without them pulling out all of the stops to get the metalwork ready for us we wouldn’t have had a chance of making Scotland.
“Antony, Jason, Tim and Tom and a friend of mine Mark Lawrenson have turned that car around in an unbelievable amount of time;” remarked Bartrum. “They got the car off the truck at 8am on Wednesday morning as bare metalwork and it was fully painted and prepped by the following evening, they then took on the build of the car and at 9am on Monday morning she was running.”
“It is an amazing achievement when you see the amount of work that goes into the build of a completely new car from scratch.”
Butcher’s debut is expected to attract a good deal of local support for the Kirkcaldy driver. As well as racing in front of his home crowd on the notoriously tricky Knockhill circuit, the weekend will also be a family affair for the Scotsman lining up on the grid against his brother-in-law and reigning BTCC Champion, Gordon Shedden.
“The car has only just been built and it’s my first time in touring cars so it’s a kind of shakedown for the car and me;” said Butcher. “I’m absolutely buzzing though! When I first started racing, I looked up to the touring cars and it was my ambition to reach the BTCC grid. Although my racing career has ended up going across to sports car racing and the GT world, switching over to the BTCC is a dream come-true. Obviously it’s got close relations to the family with Gordon [Shedden] being my brother-in-law and it’s exciting to have the chance to join him on the grid for the rest of this season.”
Team Boss David Bartrum added; “Rory will be under the spotlight at Knockhill as a local lad, coupled with the fact that we’ve got a car that will race in anger for the first time on Scottish soil. He’s had very limited testing so I hope people give him some space and don’t put him under too much pressure. Knockhill will be a glorified test for Rory and the new car and I’d like us to get a weekend under our belt and then go well from Rockingham onwards.”