RORY BUTCHER has been backed to "mount a consistent title challenge" in this year's Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship.

The 36-year-old will head into the 2023 campaign behind the wheel of Toyota Gazoo Racing UK's Corolla GR Sport, representing the Speedworks Motorsport-run outfit for a third successive season.

Kirkcaldy native Butcher, whose father, Derek, formerly owned Knockhill Racing Circuit, where he himself has previously been an instructor, will spearhead his expanded team's line-up for glory when racing begins later this month.

It will be his sixth season in the BTCC, in which he finished in a career best-equalling fifth in the standings in 2022, where he secured a total of nine podium place finishes - and a victory at Silverstone last September.

Butcher, who is joined in the Toyota Gazoo Racing UK roster by Ricky Collard and George Gamble, is one of the form drivers in the field, having signed off last season with five podium appearances from the final six starts, and team principal, Christian Dick, believes he can be in contention for what would be a first-ever title.

"It's fair to say we're all extremely excited ahead of the new season," he said.

"It's a significant challenge to expand from two cars to three but, at the same time, having three sets of data to cross-reference should allow us to make progress faster than we've ever done before.

"On the driver front, Rory is a class act who is more than ready to mount a consistent title challenge, while Ricky can focus on turning the promise he displayed in 2022 into some really strong results. As to George, he caught our attention early on last year – it takes a pretty special talent to win a race as a rookie in the BTCC – and, while his surname might be Gamble, we're confident that his signing will prove to be no risk at all."

Butcher, a former BTCC Independents' champion and Jack Sears Trophy winner, said: "I'm really proud to be returning to the BTCC for my sixth season, retaining my seat with the manufacturer-backed team, Toyota Gazoo Racing UK.

"It's our third season together and I've been part of the development of the Corolla GR Sport. I feel really happy with the car, and the people I have around me; essential ingredients for success.

"I feel like I'm going into 2023 in the best shape so far, not just in terms of the updates brought to the Corolla, but also in terms of the people I have around me. It's great to have that continuity of team and car for the third year in a row, and, having ended last season so strongly, I really want to pick up from where we left off, and be right in the mix and gunning for glory from the outset."

Last Wednesday, at the conclusion of the BTCC campaign launch at Brands Hatch, Butcher was amongst the front-runners during the only pre-season test.

He was fourth quickest, 0.325 seconds shy of reigning champion, and pace-setter, Tom Ingram, as the drivers and teams continued their final preparations ahead of the season start, at Donnington Park, Leicestershire, over the weekend of April 22-23.

Butcher is set to be joined on the grid by EXCELR8 Motorsport's Kelty racer, Ronan Pearson, who will make his debut in the series this year.

Rounds 19, 20 and 21 taking place at Knockhill on August 12-13.