Photo: PSP Images

Mike Bushell: Rory Butcher “showing himself as a strong force”

Racer-turned-engineer Mike Bushell says he feels that Cobra Sport AmD’s Rory Butcher has shown himself to be a “strong force” with his performances during the opening two rounds of the BTCC season.

The Scot heads to Thruxton this weekend sitting fifth in the championship standings, just six points down on leader Ash Sutton, and has an impressive record of five top ten finishes in six races this season.

That includes a maiden victory in the series at Brands Hatch, where he benefitted from a penalty for Tom Chilton to secure what was also the first win for Shaun Hollamby’s team.

This season has seen Butcher working alongside multiple Clio Cup champion Bushell, who joined the team in the role of race engineer after losing his drive with Team HARD on the eve of the new campaign.

The 29-year-old had engineered his own car in the past before joining up with Cobra Sport AmD shortly before Brands Hatch and said he was pleased to have been able to stay involved in the series this year.

“Of course it’s a shame I wasn’t driving this season, but I have a lot of interest in the technical side of things and was heavily involved in running my car last year,” he said. “When I got a call from Shaun to see if I wanted the job of engineering Rory’s car, I said I’d give it a go as it’s something I had never done for another driver before.

“It’s been a steep learning curve but it shows that the direction I was going with things seems to work. I’d like to think that my knowledge has helped, and when you have the right car, the right driver and the right package, everything comes together. To be six points off the lead at this stage is just amazing.”

Bushell admitted it had been a strange experience being on the sidelines but was so far enjoying the experience of working alongside Butcher as part of Cobra Sport AmD’s new-look programme.

“It’s been strange as I haven’t actually watched much of the racing – I have my head buried in the timing screens and the TV,” he said. “There is a lot to think about when you aren’t racing; I don’t think I’ve ever been so nervous! It’s easier to be driving the car because then you are in control and when you aren’t in control, it can be hard to deal with.

“I was anxious at Brands Hatch because I’m a racer at heart but when Rory has a good race or pulls off a good move, I’m the most animated person in the garage! It gives me a real buzz and I’m surprised how much I’m enjoying it.

“I can’t wait to see what happens next as I think the season so far has exceeded my expectations. Having raced against him last year, I underestimated how good Rory is and his performances in the first two rounds show what a good job he was doing to get the results he did with the MG last year.

“He has no big ego or inflated view of himself and he is open to listening to what I have to say. He is always thinking about everything when he is in the car, and I genuinely feel he is showing himself to be a strong force.”