THE Cobra Sport AmD with Autoaid/RCIB Insurance Racing team will seek to maintain its bid for title honours when the 2019 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship heads for Silverstone next weekend for the penultimate meeting of the season.
The West Thurrock-based team enjoyed a fine weekend last time out at Knockhill, with Scottish star Rory Butcher securing his maiden pole position before storming to his third win of the season on home soil.
Team-mate Mike Bushell meanwhile broke the circuit lap record on his return to action, having never driven the team’s Honda Civic Type R prior to the weekend.
Fife racer Rory heads to Silverstone with confidence on a high on the back of his Knockhill weekend, where he also secured a podium finish alongside his race one win.
Those results mean Rory goes into the final six races of the season firmly in contention for the overall championship in just his second full season in the series, whilst he is also just a single point away from the lead of the Independents’ Trophy and heads the Jack Sears Trophy standings.
The 30-year-old showed strong pace at Silverstone twelve months ago with a fine drive through the field in the opening race of the weekend, and will hope to make the most of the pace of the Honda to fight towards the sharp end of the grid – with the FK2 Type R having taken three wins at the circuit in the past three years.
With Leeds-racer Sam Tordoff having taken the decision to withdraw from the remainder of the season following the recent loss of his newborn son, Kent-based Mike will continue at the wheel of the sister Honda and will also contest the season finale at Brands Hatch next month.
On his return to action at Knockhill, Mike was on the pace from the outset despite the fact that he hadn’t been at the wheel of a BTCC car since February, although an unfortunate set of circumstances on race day meant he wasn’t able to secure the results that his speed deserved.
Mike enjoyed one of his best weekends of the season at Silverstone twelve months ago with two points finishes and has multiple podium finishes at the circuit during his time in the Clio Cup UK; where he is a double championship winner.
With valuable experience of driving the Honda now under his belt – and running without the additional ballast he had to carry at Knockhill as a new entry – Mike will seek to try and push towards the top ten to aid the team in its championship challenge.
Shaun Hollamby, Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing team principal, said:
“All season we have tried to make sure that we didn’t get carried away about our results, and with two rounds to go, we now find ourselves right in the mix for each of the championships we are eligible for.
“To be able to say that against the competition we face in the BTCC is something I am hugely proud of, and we will be giving our all over the final two rounds to see what we can achieve in the final standings.
“On the back of his results at Knockhill, Rory can head for Silverstone with plenty of confidence behind him, and we are confident that he will once again be right at the sharp end of the grid and fighting for the podium places.
“Sam’s involvement with the programme and the experience he has been able to bring from racing with some of the top teams in the series has been invaluable this year. He has shown his undoubted speed and has been a key part of the success we have enjoyed, and certainly deserved more than the win he secured at Thruxton.
“Whilst it is unfortunate that his season has ended early, family must come first in these circumstances. His decision to sit out the final two rounds is one that is completely understandable, and he and Georgie remain firmly in our thoughts and have our ongoing support.
“After an unlucky weekend at Knockhill, I’m sure that Mike will do a good job on Sam’s behalf through the final two rounds and will be able to challenge for some strong points at both Silverstone and Brands Hatch.”
Rory Butcher, #6 Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing Honda Civic Type R, said:
“It’s all to play for going into the final two rounds and it is nice that we have got to the business end of the season in contention for some silverware, both for myself and for the team.
“On paper, Silverstone is a circuit that should be a good one for us with the Honda, and it is a circuit that I also enjoy racing at. What we need to do is work hard on Saturday to get the most from practice and qualifying because that can then set us up for Sunday, as was the case at Knockhill.
“I have a strategy in my mind about how I want to approach this weekend, and the aim is to try and put that into practice to secure as many points as possible and keep my championship challenges on track.
“I can’t control what other people are doing and can only focus on doing the best job possible behind the wheel. That approach has served me well so far this season, and hopefully the same will apply when we get to Silverstone.”
Mike Bushell, #21 Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing Honda Civic Type R, said:
“Once I had shaken off the cobwebs and got rid of the ballast I had to carry into Knockhill, I showed what I could do with the new lap record in race two and although lady luck wasn’t on my side in terms of results, it has given me a lot of confidence ahead of Silverstone.
“Things are a bit more settled this time around as I have more time to prepare for fact that I’m going to be in the car again, and as a team, we have all had more time to come to terms with the circumstances that have led to me being back behind the wheel.
“Silverstone is a circuit where I’ve had some good results in the past, and I’d like to think we can go there and qualify out of the ‘danger zone’ where you can easily pick up some damage when racing in the pack – as was the case at Knockhill.
“We know that the Honda has been strong around Silverstone before and having been quite close to the pace in qualifying last time out with weight onboard, it would be great if I could push into the top ten next weekend.
“If I can then bring home at least one top ten from the three races then that would be great as this is a hard championship and I have to be realistic. I’ll be doing everything I can to help Rory with his title challenge, and trying to score as many points for the team as possible.”