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It was huge smiles all around at Snetterton Park for the third BTCC race of the season. With a stellar performance from Roy Butcher, who carved through the field for the runner-up spoils and open the team's podium account in the 2023 BTCC Season.

Snetterton Park is known to be the longest circuit on the BTCC Calendar which meant the Toyota Gazoo boys would have their work cut out for them. Unfortunately qualifying was interrupted by a brace of red flag stoppages for an oil leak that occurred and a car that was off the track! When the session belatedly resumed with just 15 minutes left on the clock, none of the Toyota drivers had a representative lap time on the board.

Collard at the front of the pack at snetterton btcc

A valiant effort from our racers Ricky Collard, George Gamble & Rory Butcher who refused to be denied, Collard led the charge by finishing in 5th. Butcher was not far behind finishing in 8th and Gamble finished with an impressive 12th Place finish amongst 27 high calibre contenders after plummeting to 23rd early on.
With the medium compound tyres on his British built Toyota Corolla GR Sport, Collard made quite the impact to the curtain-raising contest as he briefly challenged for the third spot before falling to fifth. Unfortunately, he was forced out on lap 5 when a stone flicked up by a car in front which resulted in leaving a hole in his radiator. Butcher put up an outstanding fight to fend off the pack behind him which included championship leader going into the weekend Dan Cammish. This resulted in Butcher having a 9th place finish and with Gamble taking a couple of points for a 14th place finish.

Butcher was able to advance to the 8th spot in race two on the medium rubber with Collard set about climbing his way up from the very back of the grid due to early misfortune. Using the soft tyres to his advantage, the 26 year old was able to gain 8 positions on just the opening tour. Breaking into the points on lap 4, Butcher was able to conclude his charge placing himself in 13th – A very impressive 14th place improvement on his starting slot – with George Gamble narrowly missing out on a second consecutive score finishing in 16th.

Gamble racing across the btcc track

Unfortunately, it was not meant to be with the no.42 car stopping on-track on the formation lap due to a fuel leak that occurred. Collard was able to initially rise into the top 10 but after this incident occurred face a rearguard defence on the hard rubber. In result of this, Collard was able to finish in 14th on points.
While all of this was happening, there were many eyes on Rory Butcher who was the highest placed starter on the softs. The former BTCC Independents title-winner put on a clinic for the capacity crowd at Snetterton Park and live ITV4 Television cameras. Having despatched multiple champions prior including Ash Sutton and Colin Turkington on the first lap, he was able to emphatically pass Adam Morgan and Stephen Jelley the following time around.

The next person on Butcher’s list to triumph over was Dan Rowbottom and after posting a brand-new fasted lap, he was able to make short work of his opponent before setting eyes on the reigning champion Tom ingram who was in the lead. Unfortunately, He had to concede to a charging Cammish but a post-race disqualification for the NAPA Racing driver reinstated him to second, this resulted in him having his 30th Career rostrum elevating him to 8th in the title table.

Butcher on the podium at BTCC

Christian Dick, Team Principal, Toyota Gazoo Racing UK, said:
 
“To achieve our first podium finish of the season was a fantastic way to conclude a challenging weekend and a real fillip for every single member of this team, who have all worked tirelessly in recent weeks to pull us up the grid. The delays in qualifying threw everybody’s strategies into disarray, but all three drivers pulled it out of the bag and that put us in a decent position heading into race day.
 
“We took the decision to play the long game with Rory and George, and it was a joy to watch Rory in the opening laps of race three as he clearly revelled in the Corolla’s performance and picked his rivals off in convincing fashion. It was a superb drive, and second place was no less than he and the whole team deserved.
 
“George too would almost certainly have been in the hunt for a points haul without his misfortune, and I thought Ricky responded brilliantly to the disappointment of Brands Hatch. He was one of the stars of qualifying and looked super strong early on in race one, and his recovery in race two was blistering. Both he and George are very capable of winning trophies themselves, so let’s keep our heads down, keep working hard – and go and win some more!”
 
Rory Butcher, Driver, Toyota Gazoo Racing UK, said:
 
“Everybody in the team has been working their absolute socks off, and it was so good to bring some silverware back for them all and some buzz back to the garage. Our plan for Sunday was to put all of our eggs in one basket and focus on race three, and that strategy paid off. We took the pain on the hard tyres in race one, things were a bit better on the mediums in race two – which enabled us to stay in the mix – and then the car just switched on when we bolted on the softs. 
 
“With a lot of the drivers around us on the grid on hards, we knew we needed to make hay, and I was so pleased to score our first podium of the year – that was a great reward for the whole team and it means a lot. We still clearly have a bit of speed to find, but we’re seeing the improvements and the result of all the effort that has been put in and we’re making good progress – and that’s hugely encouraging for the upcoming events.”
 
Ricky Collard, Driver, Toyota Gazoo Racing UK, said:
 
“The track limits thing was still in the back of my mind at the beginning of the weekend, which compromised my driving a little bit in practice, but we stuck to the plan and I managed to achieve my best qualifying performance so far in the Corolla. I was expecting to be fifth-from-bottom, to be brutally honest, not fifth-fastest! 
 
“We know the car is usually better over a race distance than a single lap, so we felt very optimistic going into Sunday, but it was obviously all undone pretty early on when the stone got into the radiator in race one, which was pure misfortune. That then left us on the back foot for the rest of the day, but I enjoyed getting stuck in and putting on a show in race two and salvaging what I could from race three on the hard tyres. 
 
“It was great to see Rory up on the podium – that was a real lift for everybody in the team – and we will take that confidence forward with us. Despite the personal disappointment, it’s clear that things are starting to come together now, so hopefully we can get some proper momentum building...”
 
George Gamble, Driver, Toyota Gazoo Racing UK, said:
 
“I ran a different set-up to the other guys in free practice, but it didn’t really work so we followed the same direction as Ricky for qualifying, which was a step into the unknown for me. With the disruptions to the session, I didn’t have chance to get a genuine feel for the car and then my first representative lap time got disallowed due to track limits, which meant the pressure was really on at the end with only one shot left.
 
“Like Rory, I spent all day Sunday banking the soft tyres, but unfortunately, we never got chance to capitalise. That was frustrating, because there were only a handful of cars on the softs in race three and Aiden Moffat – who was starting behind me and who we had been quicker than all weekend – finished eighth. That was another chance to score some really good points gone begging, but we’ll take it on the chin and go again next time.”
Strong performances from all our racers and the action continues at the next circuit held at Thruxton Park on the 3rd & 4th June.