18th September 2021

Toyota Gazoo Racing UK's Rory Butcher produced a last-gasp flying lap to top the opening Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship free practice session at Croft.

Long-time session leader – Gordon Shedden – had to settle for second in his Halfords Racing with Cataclean Honda Civic Type R, as a battle of the Scotsmen and indeed family members hit the front around the 2.13-mile circuit.

"The car’s feeling fantastic, after shakedown last night, I said we’re definitely in a good place," said Butcher. "It bodes well for today, we’ve just got to keep working, fine-tuning and I’ve just got to keep pushing.

"Gordon’s always up there, we’ll be fighting hard. It’s great to see Sam [Smelt] in there too, the two of us are obviously performing well around Croft. Sam had his best FP1 of the year which is good to see!

"It’s a hard championship to have good fortune, it’s so close. When you’re in the heat of the battle anything can happen, whether it’s your fault or not. To get a clean run through a season, that’s the hardest part; Ash [Sutton] has clearly got that down to a tee and has done a great job. There’ll be a lot of drivers hoping for good fortune this weekend, definitely."

BTC Racing's Senna Proctor and MB Motorsport accelerated by Blue Square's Jake Hill were third and fourth respectively, whilst Sam Smelt enjoyed arguably his best session of the season so far as he joined his Toyota Corolla team-mate inside the top five.

Josh Cook kept his good run of form going with sixth in the #66 Honda, ahead of Team BMW's Tom Oliphant and championship leader Ash Sutton in his Laser Tools Racing Infiniti.

Dan Rowbottom was another to leave it late as almost his first representative lap time fired his Cataclean-backed machine up to ninth, whilst Ginsters EXCELR8 with TradePriceCars.com's Tom Ingram rounded out the top ten.

The top 24 drivers were separated by exactly one second, suggesting yet another competitive qualifying session is in store later this afternoon.

Jade Edwards endured an extremely premature end to her FP1 as power steering failure halted her run for BTC Racing, whilst Nic Hamilton pulled off the track late on in his Team HARD-run CUPRA.

"I had a power steering failure, at the fastest part of the circuit as well!" said Edwards. "Thankfully the guys around me on track sensed that I couldn’t steer properly and let me get into the pitlane, and at least it happened at this point and not in qualifying or during the racing tomorrow."

Free Practice 2 will commence at 1205 before qualifying for Round 19 of the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship takes place at 1450, and will be streamed live via www.itv.com/btcc.

2021 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship – Free Practice 1 – Croft

1            Rory BUTCHER (GBR) Toyota Gazoo Racing UK +1:22.275s
2            Gordon SHEDDEN (GBR) Halfords Racing with Cataclean +0.128s
3            Senna PROCTOR(GBR) BTC Racing +0.219s
4            Jake HILL (GBR) MB Motorsport accelerated by Blue Square +0.236s
5            Sam SMELT (GBR) Toyota Gazoo Racing UK +0.255s
6            Josh COOK (GBR) BTC Racing +0.264s
7            Tom OLIPHANT (GBR) Team BMW +0.323s
8            Ashley SUTTON (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +0.328s
9            Daniel ROWBOTTOM (GBR) Halfords Racing with Cataclean +0.339.s
10          Tom INGRAM (GBR) Ginsters EXCELR8 with TradePriceCars.com +0.379s
11          Tom CHILTON (GBR) Car Gods with Ciceley Motorsport +0.390s
12          Colin TURKINGTON (GBR) Team BMW +0.398s
13          Aiden MOFFAT (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +0.400s
14          Daniel LLOYD (GBR) Adrian Flux with Power Maxed Racing +0.546s
15          Chris SMILEY (GBR) Ginsters EXCELR8 with TradePriceCars.com +0.597s
16          Stephen JELLEY (GBR) Team BMW +0.684s
17          Árón TAYLOR-SMITH (IRL) Team HARD. with HUB Financial Solutions +0.691s
18          Sam OSBORNE (GBR) Racing with Wera & Photon Group +0.752s
19          Ollie JACKSON (GBR) MB Motorsport accelerated by Blue Square +0.789s
20          Jason PLATO (GBR) Adrian Flux with Power Maxed Racing +0.791s
21          Carl BOARDLEY (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +0.846s
22          Jack GOFF (GBR) Team HARD. with Autobrite Direct +0.920s
23        Adam MORGAN (GBR) Car Gods with Ciceley Motorsport +0.926s
24          Jack MITCHELL (GBR) Team HARD. with Autobrite Direct +1.000s
25          Andy NEATE (GBR) Racing with Wera & Photon Group +1.428s
26          Jack BUTEL (GBR) EXCELR8 with TradePriceCars.com +1.790s
27          Nicolas HAMILTON (GBR) ROKiT Racing with iQuoto Online Trading +1.889s
28          Jade EDWARDS (GBR) PHSC with BTC Racing +3.391s
29          Nick HALSTEAD (GBR) EXCELR8 with TradePriceCars.com +3.891s

Rounds 19, 20 and 21 of the 2021 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship take place at Croft, North Yorkshire this weekend (18/19 September). Tickets are available to purchase on the gate, with further information including FAQs, ticket prices and more on Croft’s website.

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