Butcher and Smelt join Toyota GAZOO Racing UK for 2021 campaign

Rory Butcher and Sam Smelt will race the only two Toyota Corollas on the British Touring Car Championship grid in the 2021 season.

Butcher, the 2019 Independents’ Champion, has moved from the Motorbase Performance team after spending the 2020 season at the team.

Over the past two years, he positioned himself inside the top-five overall standings having completed his 2020 efforts with a win at the Brands Hatch finale.

Butcher said: “Moving to a manufacturer-backed team has been a goal of mine ever since I joined the BTCC, and I have no doubt that this will give me my best chance yet of truly fighting for the championship.”

The Toyota Corolla will be his fifth touring car since joining the BTCC back in 2017.

Sam Smelt added: “It was always my objective to get back into touring car racing, because I certainly have unfinished business in this championship.”

His debut in 2018 paired him with Butcher as teammates in the AmD Technik Essex squad.

Smelt also competed in the 2020 British GT Championship for Speedworks Motorsport in GT4 so eyed out a potential BTCC return with the team’s two-car lineup.

“It was a tough baptism in 2018, and I’m determined to show I’m capable of an awful lot more than what I achieved that year,” after securing no points finishes in the Audi S3 saloon.

Christian Dick, Team Principal, added: “He (Butcher) brings with him a fresh perspective and new ideas, and he is a hard worker with an exemplary attitude.

“It’s never easy for anybody to step into the BTCC,” with one year of car racing under Smelt’s belt.

“He probably wasn’t as prepared for it as he would have liked to have been.”

The season will open at Thruxton on April 4 later this Spring to commence their 2021 title fight.