Rory Butcher tops the times amidst mixed conditions in Norfolk tyre test
The Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship blasted back on track at Snetterton this week (7/8 July) as a total of 27 cars completed significant mileage during the two-day Goodyear tyre test.
The opening morning delivered the best of the weather – before rain set in for much of the running – as Motorbase Performance’s Rory Butcher proved his pace in both the dry and wet.
Scotsman Butcher produced his best effort on the final lap of Tuesday morning – setting a 1:56.504s benchmark lap time that would not be beaten for the remainder of the test.
The all-new Motorbase-run Ford Focus was a force to be reckoned with throughout, as Butcher also set several competitive lap times on Wednesday despite the fluctuating conditions.
“The car has been really good straight out of the box,” confirmed Butcher. “We’re definitely in a good place with the car. We decided to do a proper run at the end (of Tuesday morning’s session) and see where we are. It turned out to be a good lap and the car was mega. Overall, this new Ford Focus is feeling fantastic.”
Ash Sutton was the top pace-setter in the wet as the Laser Tools Racing driver topped both sessions on Wednesday. Team-mate Aiden Moffat backed-up the potential of the Infiniti Q50 with an impressive performance in damp conditions, whilst Michael Crees also starred in The Clever Baggers with BTC Racing Civic Type-R.
When the chequered flag finally fell, however, it was Butcher’s Tuesday flyer still leading the way overall from BTC Racing’s Tom Chilton and Toyota Gazoo Racing UK with Ginsters’ Tom Ingram.
The Toyota Corolla of Ingram was another that found comfortable and consistent pace in all conditions, suggesting the Speedworks-run car will be a formidable contender in its second season.
Jake Hill (MB Motorsport accelerated by Blue Square), Dan Cammish (Halfords Yuasa Racing) and Stephen Jelley (Team Parker Racing) completed the top six positions on the timesheets.
Esmee Hawkey became the first female driver to take part in an official BTCC session for 13 years, when she took over driving duties from Hill in the MB Motorsport Honda on the final day. The young Briton performed admirably as Hawkey chalked up more than 40 laps of experience in BTCC machinery.
In total, 29 drivers took to the track – Henry Neal briefly taking over from his father Matt at Halfords Yuasa Racing being the only other change during the two days – in nearly 14 hours of track activity.
Some 2170 laps and nearly 6500 miles were completed by the official entries, but there was one other headline-grabber on track as the TOCA Hybrid car made its debut under the guidance of experienced racer Darren Turner.
The Cosworth-developed machine spent much of the two days trying out and bedding in new systems as the Toyota Corolla now begins its extensive 18-month test and development programme.
A number of teams will carry out independent testing over the coming days and weeks, but the next time the cars and stars will be on the track together will be for the opening rounds of the 2020 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship at Donington Park on 1/2 August.