‘Old school’ Oulton Park challenge awaits TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK

19th June 2024

  • Rob Huff relishing BTCC’s ‘fast-and-furious’ rollercoaster ride
  • Andrew Watson aiming to ‘scoop some serious points’
  • Undulating Cheshire circuit is home turf for Speedworks-run squad

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK is heading to picturesque Oulton Park for the next instalment in the 2024 British Touring Car Championship campaign this weekend (22-23 June), with its sights firmly set on conquering the circuit’s notorious ‘old-school’ nature.
Located just east of Chester, Oulton is familiar territory indeed for Speedworks Motorsport – the team behind TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK’s BTCC effort – with its workshop based less than ten miles up the road in nearby Northwich. 
Despite that proximity, the two-time Independents’ title-winning outfit was frequently out-of-luck there until 2021, when Rory Butcher ended its home soil hoodoo with a commanding victory behind the wheel of the British-built Toyota Corolla GR Sport, backing that up with another podium performance ten months later. The team tallied a further six points-scoring finishes around the undulating and challenging 2.23-mile layout last year.
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK’s current drivers Rob Huff and Andrew Watson have similarly enjoyed plenty of success at Oulton in seasons past. Former FIA World Touring Car Champion Huff reached the rostrum there in Renault Clios in 2002, before triumphing at the track on his way to clinching the SEAT CUPRA Championship crown in 2003.
In his sole prior BTCC appearance at the circuit 20 years ago, the Cambridgeshire ace outqualified team-mate Jason Plato – the winningest driver in the history of the UK’s premier motor racing series – and then outscored him in the only race the pair both finished.
Northern Irishman Watson – the reigning Jack Sears Trophy winner – ascended the podium at Oulton in the Ginetta GT4 SuperCup and also has experience of the track in the British GT Championship. The 29-year-old Belfast native raced to a trio of points finishes there last season as a BTCC rookie.
Following Saturday afternoon’s qualifying session at 15:35 – streamed on ITV Sport’s YouTube channel – every moment of Sunday’s doorhandle-to-doorhandle action will be broadcast live and in high-definition on ITV4, beginning at 11:45. All three races will similarly be shown on the ITV Sport TikTok channel, in the UK and globally.

Christian Dick, Team Principal, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK, said:
“It goes without saying that we always look forward to Oulton Park. It’s a circuit that has played such a huge role in Speedworks’ history as the place where it all began, and we invariably receive amazing support there from friends, family, fans and team partners. It’s the busiest weekend of the year for us – both on and off-track!
“Compared to the first three events of the season, Thruxton was clearly more of a struggle but it is such a unique circuit and we are confident that now returning to more of a ‘traditional’ track will enable Rob and Andrew to properly exploit the Corolla’s potential. Oulton is very much an ‘old-school’ challenge and the kind of place where good drivers and cars truly come to the fore, so we go there in optimistic mood and with the steadfast aim of adding to our 2024 trophy haul.”
Rob Huff, Driver, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK, said:
“I haven’t raced at Oulton Park that much – the last time was back in 2004, but it’s just the kind of challenge I relish. It’s fast-and-furious with very limited run-off or margin for error, and with the speed of the touring cars now, it’s going to feel very quick indeed compared to when I was last there in Super 2000 machinery!
“It’s one of the toughest and most technical tracks in the country, with plenty of elevation change and a lot of sweeping high-speed turns combined with probably two of the slowest corners on the calendar. It’s a little bit reminiscent of the infield section at Snetterton in some ways and the car was flying there, so I think it should suit the Corolla quite well.
“With no real straight lines, it isn’t difficult to defend at Oulton, so qualifying will be massively important – it’s not a circuit where you can easily recover from a bad start to the weekend. It really punishes any problems you encounter early on, making it essential to stay out of trouble.
“As a team, we are still searching for consistency and one of my personal targets is to make it into Q3 for the first time. To do that, we need to start off on the front foot and quickly get the car into a place where I’m feeling comfortable. If we can secure a couple of solid top six results in the first two races, we can then see where we shake out on the reversed grid for race three and go from there...”
Andrew Watson, Driver, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK, said:
“Oulton Park is a totally different kind of circuit to Thruxton, and I’m confident we will be quicker there. It’s really fun to drive – very fast and narrow with a lot of bumps and undulations, which gives you a great sense of speed and excitement. It’s pretty much got a bit of everything, and is definitely one of my favourite tracks on the calendar. It’s the kind of place where a good car-and-driver combination can scoop some serious points.
“The hybrid probably didn’t have as big an effect at Thruxton as we had been anticipating due to the high speeds around the lap; at Oulton, I think it will make a greater difference. We go there with a full allocation, and we’ve been very quick in qualifying this year so I’ll definitely be aiming for the front couple of rows on the grid and then to convert that into some silverware on race day.
“Honestly, it’s so tight in the BTCC that qualifying is always important; we’ve seen that in the reversed-grid races, where drivers that won earlier in the day often struggle to come through, but with a good car, the right tyres and a healthy dose of hybrid, I do believe overtaking will be possible at Oulton this weekend so whatever happens on Saturday, I think we will be in decent shape.
“Ultimately, this is still only my second season in the championship, and I have a tendency sometimes to forget that. I’m learning and improving all the time, and while I clearly haven’t maximised all the results so far this year, everything we are putting in-place will ultimately pay off, I’m very sure about that.”

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