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

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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.”

DRIVER NEWS: Jack Butel makes progress at sunny Snetterton

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The F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford burst back into life at sunny Snetterton on 30/31 July. Jersey driver Jack Butel along with his team – JHR Developments had found a turn of speed over the six-week break with the Yuasa-backed driver claiming two 13th, place finishes and a 14th in the fiercely competitive one-make single-seater series.

The 2.97-mile, Snetterton 300 layout played host to rounds 16, 17 and 18 of the Ford EcoBoost powered series and with summer sunshine, this attracted a sizeable crowd over the two-day race weekend.

20 year-old Butel was eager to turn his season around in the second half of the year and right from the off he showed his intent with one of his best qualifying results to date, just outside the top-ten in 12th. The Channel Islander has notoriously struggled with qualifying in the past and was buoyant after his improvement.

On the Saturday afternoon, Jack lined up for the first of his three races. A trademark fast-start from the St Saviour resident put him into the mix from the off. As the race settled down, Butel slipped back to a disappointing 14th at the fall of the flag, but due to the competitive nature of the serious, Jack was only 13 seconds behind the overall winner in the long train of cars.

The second race of the weekend was to be the final race of the Saturday track action. It was to be a rollercoaster for Jack on the lap charts. Starting from 16th, the JHR Developments driver launched off the line to gain a place from the off. In the thick of the action, Butel got shuffled to the back of the pack and had to regroup. On lap six, the single-seater exponent began his charge, picking up positions lap after lap as his rivals faulted. As the clock hit zero, the Jerseyman just missed out on a points paying position with 13th on the results sheet.

The British F4 series supports the hugely popular British Touring Car Championship and the final contest of the weekend was to be held in front of a packed crowd and hundreds of thousands more in homes across the country watching live coverage on ITV4. The Hankook-shod driver had a largely uneventful race and enjoyed a long battle with JHR teammate Billy Monger with Butel taking another 13th at the end of the weekend.

Reflected Butel: “We had good pace in qualifying and everything clicked –I just got my head down and went for it. There was a red flag towards the end of the session which effected our plans as I think we could have snatched a top ten.

“Our target as always is the top ten and we were flying in the second race of the weekend. Somebody dropped a lot of oil on track and I couldn’t avoid it, which sent me off onto the grass. I got back on and got the bit between my teeth, but couldn’t quite make up enough places for some points today.”

DRIVER NEWS: Jack Butel battles the elements at Croft in British F4

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20 JUNE, 2016 – Croft Circuit in Yorkshire saw Jersey driver Jack Butel battle the elements in rounds 13, 14 and 15 of the British Formula 4 Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford at the weekend. It marked a year with JHR Developments and Jack’s fortunes were not to be on his side as he was taken out in the first race of the weekend whilst running comfortably in the top 10. Jack bounced back and netted two solid finishes with 12th and 16th placed finishes.

The FIA certified series sees some of the best young drivers in the world go wheel-to-wheel in identical single-seaters and is seen as a stepping stone to the higher echelons of motorsport. The priority at Croft for Butel was to be back in the pack, secure race finishes, gain plenty of mileage and improve upon his Oulton Park weekend.

In Practice and Qualifying, Jack felt comfortable right from the off and was able to establish a good base set-up for the weekend. 15th in qualifying was a solid start in his Yuasa-backed machine.

The St Saviour resident was optimistic ahead of the first race of the weekend after a strong showing around the North Yorkshire venue a year ago. After making a trademark good start, Butel pounded around the 2.1 mile Darlington circuit gaining places lap after lap. Nestled in the top 10 and on for championship points, Jack was taken out of the race by another driver in a racing incident. Unable to restart, Jack had to take a disappointing retirement. Ever the optimist the Channel Islander knew he had made substantial progress but had to do it from the back of the grid.

Croft circuit was a former RAF base in the Second World War and in 2016 Jack Butel was looking to fly on the main race day on Sunday.  The challenging layout was a favourite for the Jerseyman as the range of fast flowing corners and the slowest hairpin bend in the country offered a real challenge to the single-seater exponent. A large crowd trackside and a quarter of a million people watching live coverage on ITV4 where treated to some fantastic racing entertainment.

In the first race on the Sunday starting from the back, Jack propelled his Ford Eco-Boost powered rocket into the race picking up places as drivers faulted around him. The 20-year-old found himself in the top 10 once again before a safety car was deployed as marshals cleared debris and stranded cars from around the circuit. When the race resumed, Butel suffered front wing damage, wounding the car in the process. Jack tried to press on, but the damage made the car difficult to drive, the JHR team brought the young-gun into the pits to change the nose cone. At the fall of the flag, Butel took his turbo-charged missile to 12th place overall.

Heavy rain descended upon Croft for the final race of the weekend. Spray and visibility made it difficult for Butel to make progress as he wanted to bring the car home in one piece ahead of the six-week mid-season break. It was a momentous effort as he gained in confidence lap after lap in the challenging conditions. As the clock hit zero, the Jersey-based driver notched up another solid 16th in the final race of the weekend.

“I was massively disappointed after Oulton Park. My arm was still giving me problems and I just didn’t have the car around me,” explained Jack Butel.

“Croft is a favourite of mine and a good test before the race weekend put me at ease ahead of the races. It just wasn’t to be our weekend however despite having good pace. It was very gutting to be taken out in race one as we were going so well in the top 10 and that put us on the back foot for the rest of the weekend.

“Two race finishes helped me get my confidence back. Another top 10 was denied with the front wing being damaged but the team did a good job to get me back out to complete the race. And the third race, well that was the worst conditions I have ever raced in. It was very greasy and I couldn’t see a thing –  giving me no confidence to push on at all.

“We must leave the weekend behind and look ahead to the second half. We had a good run in the second half of the season last time and I think we will again this year. During the summer break we plan to squeeze in a test or two to get the car dialed in ahead of Snetterton in July and push even harder to get to the front.”

The next stop on the British F4 Championship calendar after the summer break will be Snetterton in Norfolk on 30/31 July. Jack Butel and JHR Developments now look forward to the remainder of the year as they target further points in the second half of the season.

DRIVER NEWS: Challenging weekend for Butel at Oulton Park

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5 JUNE, 2016 – Jersey driver Jack Butel was back in action in the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford at Oulton Park last weekend (4/5 June). Butel focused upon securing race finishes and experience as he continued his British F4 education. He left the picturesque Oulton Park circuit with three solid results–netting 17th, 13th and 14th after a challenging weekend of racing.

Last time out at Thruxton, Butel showed podium potential as he bagged further points and challenged for victory in the second race of the weekend before a racing incident took Butel out of contention. In the process Jack suffered a hand injury, which the Channel Islander hadn’t been able to shake off heading to Oulton Park.

From the fastest circuit in the country to one of the most picturesque – the FIA certified F4 British Championship powered by Ford, rolled into leafy, rural Oulton Park in Cheshire. The 20-year-old and his JHR team-mates all struggled with set-up difficulties in the short qualifying session on Saturday morning, finishing towards the back of the grid for the three races that weekend.

With the field being so competitive from front to back it was going to be a struggle for the former De La Salle student to make substantial progress. Undeterred, however, the St Saviour resident would give full commitment despite his injury and lack of experience around the Cheshire venue.  In the opening race of the weekend, the undulating layout was tough on Butel in his JHR Developments car. Plugging away he made his way up to 17th at the fall of the flag with the tight chicanes and hairpins offering a real challenge for Jack.

The Championship powered by Ford Eco-Boost would see two races on the Sunday for the turbo-charged missiles and for Jack it was all about regaining the confidence as he looked to make progress in the park. The British F4 series supports the popular Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship and following the tin-top races the single-seater exponents were to shine in front of over 40,000 spectators filling the circuit banks with hundreds of thousands watching live coverage on ITV4.

The first race on Sunday would see an improvement in pace from the Yuasa Battery-backed driver. Jack launched his single-seater off the line with great effect as he picked off competitors in the opening handful of laps. An incident in front of Butel held him up, taking him out of the fight for championship points. Avoiding the incident, he regained his rhythm and speed, lap after lap Butel began to rein in the pack. Butel was on the cusp of the points paying positions, finishing 13th as the flag fell.

The grid for the final race was taken on the second best time in qualifying which meant Jack’s weekend progress had to be started all over from the rear of the grid. Wanting to regain his Thruxton form, Jack launched into the final race of the weekend looking for further mileage in his JHR prepared machine. With races so short, Butel had limited time to make a dent into the fast and furious pack.
As he sped around the 2.26 mile ribbon of tarmac, settled on the Cheshire hillside he carved his way towards the top 15. It was a momentous effort despite his injury– setting respectable lap times in the scorching sunshine. As the clock hit zero Butel notched up 14th in the final race of the weekend.

“It wasn’t our best weekend,” explained Butel. “After Thruxton where we had podium pace, coming here [Oulton Park] we thought we could do the same. It was a combination of my injury and set-up problems that left us off the pace and it never clicked all weekend.

“We tested at Croft last week and we are quite happy that we have a good car under us. We are aiming to be back in the top 10 and take some points away from the weekend in two weeks time. I am drawing a line under this weekend and looking forward to racing again. Croft is a great circuit, it suits my style and it’s awesome to drive in a single-seater, so I am going in with our head held high for a good weekend.”
 

The next stop on the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford calendar is Croft Circuit in Yorkshire as the force heads north on 18/19 June. Jack Butel and JHR Developments now look to be back fighting in the top 10 once again.

DRIVER NEWS: Podium potential for Jack Butel at Thruxton in British F4

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THRUXTON 08 MAY, 2016 – Jersey driver Jack Butel almost took his first podium position at Thruxton last weekend (7/8 May) in the second race of the weekend. Butel was running in the podium seats before a racing incident denied Jack of a career best finish. The British F4 driver has had one of his best weekends to date taking seventh overall in race one to add more points to his championship tally and to round out the weekend Butel overcame injury to gain more mileage around Britain’s fastest race circuit with 18th overall.

In Qualifying under the scorching summer sunshine, Butel instantly dialled himself into the Hampshire venue by putting his JHR Developments prepared single-seater on the cusp of the top-ten in 12th position.

The opening race of the weekend took place on Saturday afternoon around the former aerodrome. The 20-year-old made one of his trademark good starts to instantly put himself into the top-ten mix.  Pounding around the 2.35-mile circuit at speeds north of 120mph, Butel went about climbing the order at his ‘home circuit’. Getting stuck into the thick of the action the Yuasa-backed driver worked his way past several rivals to claim a fine seventh overall at the fall of the flag to add further points to his championship tally.

With Jack finishing seventh, the first seven cars got reversed for the second contest of the weekend resulting in Butel starting on pole for the first time in the Ford EcoBoost powered series.

Sunday morning saw the temperature sore and the pressure increase on the young shoulders of the St Saviour resident. In front of thousands of race goers lining the banks of Thruxton and hundreds of thousands watching live on ITV4, Jack flew the flag for Jersey ahead of Liberation Day as he took to his starting slot with a clear road ahead of him. As the lights went out, Jack once again made a rocket-like start, leading into the first complex of corners.

In his resplendent red and white Yuasa liveried single seater, Butel immediately had to get his elbows out and fight for his position as his more experienced rivals began to gang-up on the Jerseyman. Briefly dropping down to fifth, Butel got back into the hunt and went three abreast into the final complex – braking as late as he dared Jack made a position but damaged his front wing in the process.  In and amongst the chaos a safety car was thrown as marshals resolved other incidents.

When the safety car peeled back into the pitlane, the JHR driver went on another charge with just nine minutes left on the clock. Jack had a good run through the final long straight and had passed third placed Devlin Defrancesco coming into the final chicane –going around the outside of the Carlin driver. As the corner tightened both drivers collided, damaging Jack’s car, which sent the Channel Islander into a disappointing retired.

Butel’s pace had made many sit-up and take note including ITV4 commentators Phil Glew and Richard John Neil who said Butel had done a good job as his pace was fantastic and it was good to see him running at the front of the field.

Dusting himself off and with a rebuilt car, Butel went into the final race to try and gain more mileage, experience and to shake the car down after an incident in the previous race. Jack was nursing an arm injury for the entire 20-minute race and whilst in agonising pain wrestled the FIA-certified single-seater around Britain’s most southerly circuit – crossing the line in 18th as the clock hit zero.

As the bumper crowd filtered out of the Thruxton speed bowl circuit, Jack reflected on his fast and furious weekend:

“Our weekend went really well as we had the pace from the off. We just need to find a bit more for qualifying as our race pace was a match for anyone,” enthused Butel.

“There are no words to describe what it meant to sit on pole. It was awesome to run at the front and I felt more and more comfortable as the race went on. I would love to be there more often and with this experience I know I can challenge for a podium again this season.

“I would like to thank all my sponsors and the whole team at JHR Developments for getting my car back into one piece for the final race. At one point there were seven team members working on the car, they are a phenomenal team. I was in so much pain for the last race but all I wanted to do was to get to the finish as a thank you for their hard work.

“I have a spring in my step, now that I know I can fight at the front. We want to do our best at Oulton Park and bring home more points. I have had limited testing there but points have to be the target every weekend and I will give it my all to achieve more once again.”

Jack Butel will return to action on the 4/5 June at Oulton Park in Cheshire.

DRIVER NEWS: Promising points for Jack Butel at Donington Park

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DRIVER NEWS 17 APRIL, 2016 – Jersey driver Jack Butel took another step forward in the second round of the highly competitive Ford British F4 Championship at Donington Park last weekend (16/17 April). Jack collected his first championship points in his Yuasa Battery backed machine in the second race of the weekend with a fine seventh overall after an incident filled affair. In the first race, Butel sadly retired but bounced back to take the points in the second and in the final contest at the Leicestershire venue the Channel Islander took a solid 12th. More importantly Butel furthered his education, as he got closer to the front running pace in a variety of challenging weather conditions throughout the weekend.

On the Thursday before the race meeting the 20-year-old undertook two free practice sessions to reacclimatise himself with the iconic Donington Park.  With rain in the first and sunshine in the second, both Jack and his team, JHR Developments where prepared for all eventualities and lapped the circuit just under a second away from the front running pace.

In the first race of the weekend for the FIA certified single-seaters, Butel suffered a mechanical failure resulting in him retiring on the opening lap of the race. Many drivers would have let that result dictate the rest of the race meeting but Jack held his head high and was as motivated as ever to salvage his weekend.

A bumper crowd on Sunday morning witnessed the Channel Islander drive one of the best races of his career. Butel faced a momentous task in his Ford EcoBoost powered single-seater as he started from the back of the grid after the retirement in race one. Making one of his impressive trademark starts, Butel had the bit between his teeth as he set off into the 20-minute race. As the field powered into the first corner, the St Saviour resident took a tight line and picked off several drivers while a few more took to the gravel on the outside of the corner. Just a few minutes later a safety car was deployed bunching the pack up. Once the incidents had been cleared the race resumed with just seven and a half minutes left on the clock.  Butel was on the cusp of the top-ten and his progress was set to continue.

Under the spotlights of the ITV4 cameras Jack shone in his Yuasa Battery F4 car and he performed one of the best maneuvers of the race. The youngster was at the back of a gaggle of cars and held onto their coat tails coming out of the final chicane as they crossed the start/finish straight. Easing his car to the outside for the first corner, Butel went around the outside of several rivals through Redgate, the fast right hander and had sealed the deal as the cars descended down the sweeping Craner Curves.  Now buried into the points, Butel ticked off the laps and picked up further positions as others faulted. As Jack crossed the line he took a fine seventh overall – claiming his first points to kick start his 2016 season.

In the final race of the day, the former De La Salle student flew out of the blocks once again to quickly carve his way through the pack, as others suffered misfortunes. Once into the race, Butel settled down, pounding around the 1.96 mile venue in the turbocharged Ford EcoBoost powered single seater on the cusp of the top ten. Unfortunately Jack couldn’t progress as much as he had hoped – settling for 12th at the fall of the flag.
 
Quotes from the weekend:

As the crowd filtered out of the circuit under the flight path of East Midlands Airport, Jack reflected on his weekend’s performance:

“It was a good weekend on the whole for us at Donington.” Explained Butel.
“Race one was disappointing and that’s the way it goes sometimes but race two and three I was really happy with my performance.

“From the back of the grid I just wanted to go as far forward as possible. I was really fired up and I had one of my best drives to date and everything worked well – the car JHR Developments prepared was brilliant. It could have been a higher position if the race had been longer.

“ I can’t wait for the next round at Thruxton – it’s an amazing circuit, really quick and so much fun to drive. It’s flat out! We are going in the right direction with our pace and performance and want to be scoring points again next time out.”

James Walker, Jack’s driving and performance mentor was also quick to praise his fellow islander’s performance:

“It was another step forward from Jack and everything we have worked together on is working well.” Enthused Walker.

“He got himself together mentally and really prepared himself after the disappointment of the first race. He drove well and kept out of trouble especially when another driver nearly took him out in the third race!

“Heading to Thruxton, he is quick there, he likes it and we are expecting a good result. He is very motivated and with an improvement in qualifying that will be the key for further good results.”

The next stop on the MSA Formula Championship calendar is the fastest circuit in the UK – The high-speed Thruxton Circuit in Hampshire on May 7/8. Jack and the team are looking for a strong showing at the former aerodrome circuit having completed a successful test there earlier this month.

DRIVER NEWS – Butel shows off his new colours ahead of Ford MSA Formula season

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DRIVER NEWS 31 March, 2016 – Jerseyman Jack Butel pulled the covers off his 2016 Ford British F4 single-seater at Rockingham last week during the Ford British F4 season launch.

The stunning Ford EcoBoost powered car will carry the striking red, white and black of Yuasa Batteries, one of the principle supporters for Jacks year ahead. Butel will be driving for JHR Developments for his second season in the fiercely competitive Ford British F4 Championship.

The 20-year-old had a steep learning curve in his first season but as the year developed the St Saviour resident gained momentum notching up four top-10 finishes in the run to the end of the year, with a solid sixth overall at Silverstone last September.

The Ford British F4 Series is a popular part of the TOCA package, which supports the action-packed Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship. The series will tour the country from Thruxton in Hampshire to Knockhill in Fife, Scotland, with the season culminating at Brands Hatch, Kent in October.

Yuasa are no strangers to British motorsport having helped power the Honda Yuasa Racing team to several manufactures titles and three drivers titles for Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden in the BTCC. Jack’s new colours will be based on the classic championship winning Honda Yuasa Racing Civics, which motorsport fans worldwide will instantly recognise.

Yuasa have a long and proud motorsport heritage, and alongside their title sponsorship of the works Honda BTCC team the battery manufacturer has been a major sponsor of MotoGP’s Repsol Honda Team and rider Marc Marquez since 2014.

Speaking at last week’s Ford British F4 Series Launch Day, James Douglas, Marketing Executive for Yuasa Battery Sales (UK) Ltd. said: “We are pleased to be joining Jack Butel as one of his main sponsors for the 2016 Ford British F4 Championship. After a fantastic run of results at the end of last season he is definitely a driver to watch out for, and we are excited to see what he can achieve.

“Jack is really beginning to make his mark on the series and we are delighted he will be racing under the Yuasa banner this year. Jack will race in our iconic Yuasa racing livery, and we are confident that his car will stand out when on the track, it is fantastic that we will feature so prominently in another race series on the TOCA package.

“As the world’s leading battery manufacturer our motorsport sponsorship programme is key to maintaining our brand profile whilst reflecting our own core values of performance, reliability and quality.”

Jack Butel is delighted to have Yuasa on board, he said: “I am excited that leading battery firm Yuasa have joined us for the 2016 season. To have such a big brand backing me is a great feeling and I look forward to working with them to achieve our goals in the new season ahead. My new car livery looks fantastic and I am proud to be sporting such a famous and iconic motorsport design.

“My race pace was good last year and this year with a season under my belt I hope to be qualifying higher up the grid to be consistently running in the top 10. My hopes for this year are to break into the top five and then onto the podium. With the knowledge, data and experience I have, this has to be our target and we have to hit the ground running right from the off. I can’t wait to get started!”