Photo: PSP Images

Rory Butcher to take sabbatical from BTCC

Rory Butcher has announced that he will take a sabbatical year from the British Touring Car Championship in order to “focus on other projects and commitments”.

“As a racing driver, you’re naturally always looking ahead and building towards the next race, the next event or the next season,” said Butcher.

“But having been competing for the past 18 years and with a young family back home in Scotland as well as several other interesting projects that require a lot of my time and attention, I feel the moment is right to take a break.”

The 36-year-old has raced in the BTCC for the past six years, racing for Speedworks Motorsport since 2021 and finishing tenth overall with one win last year.

“Last season was a really challenging one for me. We went into it with such high hopes after finishing 2022 so strongly, and having to come to terms with the fact that we were not going to be fighting at the front hit pretty hard,” said Butcher.

“I’m pleased that I stuck the season out, and it was nice to rediscover a little bit of form over the second half. It was good to show what I’m capable of in qualifying at Knockhill and particularly Brands GP and to get the win at Donington, but despite that upturn in performance and results, I still knew deep down that it was time to push the pause button.”

Butcher is yet to announce any firm plans regarding a potential return.

“I don’t feel right now like I’m the driver I want to be or know I can be, and the BTCC is so intensely competitive, with such fine margins, that you can’t afford to be at anything less than 100 per cent,” said Butcher.

“The team always give it everything, as do my sponsors, who have played a vital role in my touring car journey. I am very thankful for their ongoing support, through good times and bad.

“Looking back, I think there’s a lot to be proud of and I have a lot of happy memories – it’s been a wonderful championship to be a part of for the past six-and-a-half years and a bit of a whirlwind, if I’m honest – and I’m definitely walking away with some unfinished business as I haven’t accomplished everything I want to in the BTCC.

“I believe I have the ability to fight for the title, but if I do at some stage come back, the timing needs to be right. Christian [Dick – Team Principal], Amy [Dick – Team Manager] and John [Gilbert – Managing Director] put a lot of faith in me, for which I am extremely grateful and we still have an excellent relationship, and while I don’t know what the future holds, I don’t feel like this is goodbye – it’s just goodbye for now.”