DRIVER NEWS: Butel signs off 2016 with points at Brands Hatch finale

Supplied by driver’s PR.

2 OCTOBER, 2016 – The fast and furious F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered came to a close on the iconic Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit. After missing out on championship points on the last few rounds, Butel signed off 2016 in style with ninth in race one and a pair of 14th place finishes.

In the previous contest at Silverstone, Butel had a solid weekend, just missing out on the top-ten at the home of British motorsport. Two weeks on and Butel faced his biggest challenge of the season – the daunting Brands Hatch Grand Prix layout.  At 2.3 miles in length the undulating mecca for motorsport would throw all weather conditions at the Channel Islander over the weekend. Heavy rain on the Friday practice day and Saturday qualifying, saw the Jersey driver initially struggle in the wet conditions in his JHR Developments prepared machine.

For the first race on Saturday Butel started from the back of the grid. On the wet but drying circuit, Butel made the most of his trademark good start to leap-up the order on the opening lap, nestling himself into 12th place. A rain shower threw an unexpected spanner into the works three laps later. The 20-year-old revelled in the changeable conditions as he carved his way into the top-ten before taking ninth on lap nine. A position the Yuasa-backed driver would hold until the fall of the flag two laps later – taking his third top-ten finish of the season in the process.

As it was the final round for the British Touring Car Championship and all of the other support categories, a large crowd packed into the Kent venue, while hundreds of thousands tuned into ITV4 for live coverage throughout Sunday. The stars of tomorrow in the form of the British F4 series runners put on a fantastic display for the thousands packed around the circuit. Starting in ninth, Butel was optimistic of moving up the order in the 20-minute shoot-out. Unfortunately for the St Saviour resident a technical gremlin hindered his progress. Racing his heart out, with a wounded machine, the former De La Salle student managed to chalk-up 14th position as the clock hit zero.

With the grid for the final race decided upon qualifying, Butel started on the back row of the grid after a troubled qualifying session. The British F4 showdown saw Butel rocket off the line once again in his turbo-charged missile, overtaking several rivals within the first lap.  Avoiding drama in front, Butel enjoyed several race long battles and took another solid 14th at the fall of the flag.

“Brands Hatch GP is so much fun to drive and I fell in love with the circuit once again.” Enthused Butel. “Race one was very interesting with the rain on slick tyres! I loved the conditions and knew I could get some points in and amongst all of the drama. It was great to be back in the top-ten.

“With a good result in race one, I thought this would be the perfect springboard to try and get a top five in the second. The mechanical issues were very frustrating as that saw us drop down the leaderboard – denying us any chance of further points. We had some good battles in the final race and I really enjoyed scrapping in the sunshine with the massive crowd trackside. It was probably the best weekend of the year. It’s such a shame it was the final round!

“I would like to thank everyone for their support in 2016. All of this wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for my dedicated family, team, coaches and sponsors. I look forward to putting plans together for 2017.”

Ford-powered racers ready for mid-season Croft outings

  • Ricky Collard leads Lando Norris to Yorkshire with a slender seven-point advantage
  • Jack Barlow hoping that his first visit to Croft will provide his long-awaited maiden podium finish
  • New team for Jack Butel

21 JUNE, 2015 – The Ford EcoBoost-powered MSA Formula Championship heads north next weekend (27/28 June) to the Croft circuit, near Darlington, for a trio of races which will bring the series to its mid-point. Whoever leaves North Yorkshire with the championship lead will enjoy a significant psychological advantage as the young single-seater heroes and their teams head into a much deserved six-week summer break.

Currently it is experience leading the way: 18-year-old Formula Ford graduate Ricky Collard heads the points table for the TRS Arden team thanks to two race victories and a further four second-place finishes from the opening 12 rounds. But Ricky is only seven points clear of the season’s outstanding 15-year-old talent, Carlin’s Lando Norris, who has racked up four wins already.

Croft’s a circuit with happy memories for Lando – it was there last season that he scored his first race win in a car, when he triumphed in the Ginetta Junior series. Collard fared less well at Croft in Formula Ford: he was swept up in another’s accident in the first race of the weekend and ended his weekend with a best race finish of eighth.

One driver who knows only too well what it’s like to be knocked out of a race is Jack Barlow, who was set fair for his and the MBM team’s maiden podium finish last time out, at Oulton Park, before fate intervened in the shape of an avoidable collision which left him watching, blameless, from the sidelines – far from the 20th birthday present the Hastings-based driver was hoping for.

“We were leading up to our first podium,” said Jack. “We’d had a couple of fourths and a couple of fifths, but hadn’t quite made it to third. We were in perfect shape with Herta and Martins coming together on the first lap. We had new left tyres also, and the only other two with new lefts were the drivers in front of me [Norris and Collard], and if I’d gone with them I would have been on for a good result. It’s frustrating, but what can you do?”

Barlow is hopeful that his luck will change at Croft, although it is not a circuit on which he has raced before: “I’ve never been to Croft, so I’m keeping an open mind about it. I can pick up circuits quite quickly, so will be going straight into it on the Friday and using that as a learning day.

“There are some areas where we are missing out on the set-up side of things because we are still learning about the car. We haven’t really had much time to test. But we are getting closer and closer and hopefully will be on the podium before long.”

He’s looking forward to the summer break, and the opportunity to source much-needed further funding to help him complete his season. “We are OK financially for Croft but then we have six weeks where we need to find more budget. That’s the nice thing about having the summer break – it gives us a chance to settle down and talk to a few people.”

After a dismal time at Thruxton in May, Donington double winner Dan Ticktum had hoped to get his season back on track at Oulton earlier this month; a third and a fourth didn’t exactly achieve what he had hoped but the Fortec driver maintains championship third, 26 points off Collard’s tally.

There have been three other race winners so far this unpredictable season – Double R’s Matheus Leist, who won the Donington reverse-grid race; JHR Developments driver Sennan Fielding, who rocketed to victory from third on the grid in the second Oulton race; and TRS Arden man Sandy Mitchell, who did the double at Thruxton.

Fielding will be hoping to carry a little local support into the Croft races, having spent his Saturday in Newcastle city centre showing interested passers-by the intricacies of his Ford EcoBoost-powered machine as part of a BTCC promotional event for the circuit.

Fielding and any of the above mentioned could be on for further victories at Croft, and to that list you can add many further names, including those of the other podium visitors so far in 2015: JTR duo James Pull and Dan Baybutt, Carlin’s Colton Herta and SWB Motorsport man Rafael Martins.

In the Rookie class it’s very much Ticktum who leads the way thanks to eight class wins from 12 starts, with Baybutt, Mitchell, Martins and Carlin’s Romanian racer Petru Florescu battling it out for second spot.

After her impressive MSA Formula debut at Oulton Park, 20-year-old Jessica Hawkins is returning with the Falcon Motorsport team, alongside Darius Karbaley. Richardson Racing will field its regular two cars for Louise Richardson and Ollie Pidgley, with Indian talent Tarun Reddy lining up alongside Leist at Double R.

The championship’s second Indian racer, Ameya Vaidyanathan, will be in action for JTR, with Josh Smith piloting the Racing Steps Foundation-backed Fortec car and Enaam Ahmed, fresh from racing in the SMP F4 Championship in Russia, on the TRS Arden team strength.

Jerseyman Jack Butel will be switching to a new – as yet unconfirmed – team for Croft, having parted company with SWB Motorsport. Says Jack: “This decision has not been easy but I believe it is the best thing for both parties. I have had a great 18 months with the team and they have taught me a lot and have had some great times with everyone in the team. I wish all of SWB the best in the future as I continue my racing career.”

The Croft weekend gets underway on Friday with two test sessions ahead of an action-filled Saturday comprising official qualifying and two races. Sunday afternoon’s finale is to be screened live on ITV4 between rounds of the British Touring Car Championship.

Croft timetable
Friday 26 June
0930 & 1340 Testing
Saturday 27 June
1025 Qualifying, 1340 Round 13, 1725 round 14
Sunday 28 June
1549 Round 15