Toyota Gazoo Racing UK aiming to maintain momentum at Croft

Toyota Gazoo Racing UK aiming to maintain momentum at Croft

21.06.2022: • Speedworks-run Corolla has proven race-winning form in North Yorkshire • Rory Butcher says circuit ‘really plays to the Toyota’s key strengths’ • Ricky Collard promises aggressive approa

•    Speedworks-run Corolla has proven race-winning form in North Yorkshire


•    Rory Butcher says circuit ‘really plays to the Toyota’s key strengths’


•    Ricky Collard promises aggressive approach after recent step forward




Buoyed by its most successful outing of the 2022 British Touring Car Championship campaign to-date, Toyota Gazoo Racing UK is travelling to Croft this weekend (25/26 June) with a spring in its step – and fired-up to take care of some unfinished business around the North Yorkshire circuit.
 


Last season, Rory Butcher looked to be a leading contender for pole position at Croft after setting the pace in the first free practice session and backing that up with the third-quickest time in FP2 – only for a rare engine failure early on in qualifying to consign the Scot to the very back of the grid. After being taken out on the opening lap of race two, he then charged through the field from 29th to 11th in race three – but the whole team knew the potential had been there for so much more.
 


A big fan of Croft’s all-round challenge, the 35-year-old Kirkcaldy native – a former Independents’ Champion and Jack Sears Trophy winner in the UK’s premier motor racing series – posted fastest lap there in the second BTCC race in 2020 and achieved a brace of lights-to-flag victories at the track in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB in 2012. He returns off the back of an excellent weekend at Oulton Park, where he was the second-highest scorer to move up to seventh in the title table.
 


Behind the wheel of the sister British-built Toyota Corolla GR Sport – run by two-time BTCC Independents’ Champions Speedworks Motorsport – team-mate Ricky Collard was similarly right in the mix in Cheshire, tallying a trio of top ten results and only being a denied a deserved podium finish in the finale by a five-second penalty for an out-of-position start.
 


The last time he raced at Croft – back in 2015 – the 25-year-old Surrey-born star pipped current McLaren Formula 1 driver Lando Norris to the top step of the rostrum in the MSA Formula junior single-seater series. As he increasingly finds his feet in front wheel-drive machinery, Collard is targeting another step towards the sharp end of the BTCC grid this weekend.


 
Every moment of Sunday’s doorhandle-to-doorhandle action will be broadcast live and in high-definition on ITV4, beginning at 11:30am.
 




Christian Dick, Team Principal, Toyota Gazoo Racing UK, said:

 


“We go to Croft in a very positive frame of mind after our results at Oulton Park. Following a tough start to the season, to see both cars finish inside the top ten in all three races was massively rewarding for the entire team, and showed that all the hard work everybody is putting in day-in, day-out is now really paying off.
 


“We tested at Croft a few months ago, which went very well, and we know from previous experience that the Corolla is well-suited to the track – even if the racing gods haven’t always smiled upon us there. Two years ago, a broken wishbone caused a post-qualifying ride-height failure that cost us pole position, and we were denied another likely shot at pole last season by the engine failure for Rory.
 


“On both occasions, we have fought back strongly on race day, with a win in the final race in 2020 and then of course Rory’s spectacular drive up the order last year. I see no reason why we shouldn’t be just as competitive again this time around – albeit hopefully with less drama in qualifying and a slightly more straightforward weekend!”
 





Rory Butcher, Driver, Toyota Gazoo Racing UK, said:

 

“I love Croft. I’d almost go so far as to call it a second ‘home’ event for me. It’s the first track over the border, and we invariably see a bunch of people coming down from Scotland to watch. I’ll have friends and family in the crowd and quite a few sponsors there too, so I really want to put on a good show and I think we will.
 


“We’re full of confidence after Oulton Park, where we were super-consistent, which is hugely important in the BTCC – we might not have been the outright quickest in the field on race day, but we were always there-or-thereabouts and we came away with a lot of points. We also learned a lot over the course of the day and definitely finished in a stronger place than where we’d begun.
 


“Hopefully we can take that improvement forward with us to Croft. The Corolla worked really well round there last year – everything just flowed and the lap times came so easily – and the balance of the car felt amazing again in our pre-season test at the track.
 


“With its heavy braking zones and slow-speed corners where you need a lot of front-end grip, it’s a circuit that really plays to the Corolla’s key strengths of braking performance and traction. I think we also unlocked something in the high-speed sections at Oulton, which should help through the middle part of the lap at Croft. When I have a good feeling, it usually translates into a good weekend, so we’re certainly eyeing another very strong set of results.”
 




Ricky Collard, Driver, Toyota Gazoo Racing UK, said:


“It was great to take such a big step forward at Oulton, and we want to carry that momentum on. Inside the team, we’ve known we can do it, but to finally prove it to the outside world by finishing third on-the-road in race three was really satisfying. Even if we didn’t get to keep the position, to hold the championship leader off throughout showed that we’ve really got the Corolla into the right window now.
 


“I’ve been very open about the fact that I’m still figuring out how to extract the best from the tyres in a front wheel-drive car; that’s the biggest thing I’ve been struggling with – sometimes I’ve pushed too hard, too soon and had nothing left, sometimes I haven’t pushed soon enough. Tyre management will be particularly important at Croft, since it’s a high-degradation circuit and finding that last half-second is where the experience really shows, but I’m learning every single time I get into the Corolla and am feeling increasingly relaxed and at home in it.
 


“Croft has traditionally tended to favour rear wheel-drive cars, but the recent resurfacing seems to have balanced that out a bit, so it will be interesting to see what it’s like now. I obviously haven’t driven there for a few years, so I’ll have a lot of work to do in free practice – I only have those two 40-minute sessions to reacclimatise to the track before qualifying, which means I’ll need to be ‘on it’ straightaway.
 


“It’s definitely a circuit I enjoy. My dad had a lot of success there and Rory was super-strong last year, and he has been such a huge help over the first part of the season. The Corolla is quite agile and changes direction really well, which is key at Croft, and after starting from the pit-lane in the second MSA Formula race back in 2015 and catching and passing Lando [Norris], I know where the best overtaking opportunities are. I’m feeling really excited and my plan is very much to go on the attack – more top ten finishes are unquestionably the aim.”







Russell Atkins ,  Jakob Ebrey Photography







Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/toyota-gazoo-racing-uk-maintain-momentum-croft---239090.html

21.06.2022 / MaP

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