The Motorbase Performance Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship team again scaled the top of the rostrum at Knockhill in Scotland last weekend with Rory Butcher rounding out a hectic week for the squad with his second victory in eight days.
The UK’s leading saloon car runners went straight from Oulton Park in Cheshire, where Butcher had claimed the team’s maiden victory of the campaign, to Fife in Scotland. The tight turnaround meant many members of the team stayed on the road and headed north rather than going back to the Kent workshops to fettle the three Ford Focus ST machines.
Butcher, the reigning Independents Trophy winner, rewarded the hard work with three top-10 finishes, which were capped with a dominant victory in the weekend’s finale on Sunday afternoon.
The Ford’s first win at Oulton Park had come when a rival was excluded for failing the post-race ride-height test, At Knockhill, there was no doubt about Butcher’s pace as he took the lead on the opening lap and powered clear to glory.
Scotsman Butcher, who came into the weekend carrying 48kg of success ballast, was fifth in the opening race and then stuck in the mid-pack for 10th in race two. However, he grabbed his chance in the reversed-grid third encounter.
Butcher says: ”You know, coming home and taking our first victory in the new Ford Focus ST is one thing and doing it on the road is great. But doing it at home is really special and I just am so lucky to be part of this team and have this opportunity. I’m just so happy to reward them with a victory.”
“The car came alive finally, so that and a little set-up change that we made going into the session and, obviously, stripping the car of its success ballast after quite a difficult race two really helped. It all came together, and it just shows you the performance of this new car.”
The results meant that Butcher now sits in third place in the fight for this season’s British Touring Car Championship crown with four of the nine meetings completed.
Motorbase battler Ollie Jackson had a bruising weekend in his Focus, with an accident in the third race robbing him of his chance to score big points after making progress with the set-up of his machine across the three races.
He bounced back from qualifying on the 11th row to fight his way up to the cusp of the points in race one and then launched into the points in the second encounter with 11th spot. However, he was caught up in a concertina effect going into the tricky chicane section in race three, which left him stranded broadside on the track and he was collected by a rival.
While Jackson was lucky to be uninjured in the sizeable accident, he was ruing the missed chance to score a large points haul, which had gone begging.
Jackson says: ”The car was good and had speed in it and the accident was a shame as we’d made progress, gone forwards and I’d like to think I had the pace of the cars in front of me up until the accident: I think it would have been a good result, I think we would have been in the top 10.”
Andy Neate also suffered a torrid weekend in his Motorbase Focus. He was racing a touring car at the demanding 1.3-mile hillside circuit for the first time since 2012.
His charge was scuppered by a rival running into the back of his machine during a caution period in race one, taking out both cars and leaving Andy with his first non-finish of the season. Further damage put him out of race two but he bounced back for a finish in 20th in race three.
Reflecting on the weekend, Motorbase principal David Bartrum said that Butcher’s race-three win was a landmark for the team, which will now have three weeks to prepare for the resumption of combat at Thruxton in Hampshire on September 19-20.
“A win on the road win, particularly Rory’s home circuit, is a great feeling,” says Bartrum. “It means we have had two wins in two meetings. I am a very, very happy team boss and looking forward to a few weeks in the workshop.
“We have been on the go since Oulton Park. We’ve been one very busy team, along with everyone else in this paddock you know. It’s been a real test of resources of the British touring car teams and I think they’ve all done a stonking job.”
Bartrum said that the team would now regroup at its Kent base and get the cars in brand new condition for the next rounds in Hampshire.
“There is quite a lot to do,” he admits. “But we will get it done and maybe we will be able to sneak a weekend off in there somewhere. Winning races is what gives us the motivation, and that is the position we are in, so no stone will be left unturned as we battle for this crown.”