RORY BUTCHER is confident that he has the tools to compete for British Touring Car Championship glory despite a "difficult" second race weekend.

The 33-year-old heads for Oulton Park in Cheshire this Saturday and Sunday looking to bounce back from his last outing, which saw him fail to finish two of the three races because of tyre issues.

Those disappointments, either side of a fourth-place finish having also secured pole position on qualifying, have left Butcher sixth in the drivers' standings on 52 points, 43 adrift of early pacesetter Colin Turkington.

However, a strong first three rounds of this year's competition at Donnington Park, which included two podium finishes, has ensured the Motorbase Performance driver retains the belief his Ford Focus can be in the mix at the end of the campaign.

Speaking to Press Sport, he said: "We had a difficult Brands Hatch. We had a real, golden opportunity there to come away with potentially the championship lead, and it didn't go in our favour. We put it (the car) on pole, we led the first race until two laps to go, and then had a tyre blow-out.

"We had to come fighting through the field in race two after starting at the back of the grid to finish fourth and then, in race three, it was all looking sweet and rosy again. Where we'd been sitting tidy in third place, again with two laps remaining, the tyre blew out.

"Instead of coming away from Brands Hatch feeling like we're building momentum, we've obviously now got a bit of a hill to climb with a points deficit to the leader.

"But, going into Oulton Park, we're going in with a slightly different strategy in terms of how we're going to set the car up. We've just got to make sure we finish the races but, from my point of view, I'm going to approach it in the same way that I have in the first two events, and get the very most out of every session that I can, and try and attack.

"You're talking about three minutes; if the races were three minutes shorter, then I would've finished them, but we can't run it that fine. It's a new car, we're learning this car, and it's putting different forces through the tyres than the previous model. We're just having to learn this new chassis very quickly.

"We've still got time. We've got a long season ahead and I feel confident we can put up a fight."

Butcher, who will race at his home circuit of Knockhill over the weekend of August 29-30, continued: "I feel like the car is there, it's in the window, it's competitive. It's a car that can fight for the championship and we've just got make to sure we finish the races but, at the same, we can't back off; we have to keep our focus and keep pushing 100 per cent.

"We can't be putting our heads down and thinking it's all over. This championship is renowned for having ups and downs. Many a time there's been a contender who's looked like he was out of it early on in the championship and then come back with a strong mid-season to then be in with a shout at the final round.

"That's what we just have to do; we have to keep fighting and the others will have their misfortune and bad luck. We've got to keep it fully lit."

While delighted to be back racing, this year's championship has, so far, taken place without crowds due to COVID-19 restrictions.

When asked if it felt different because of a lack of fans, Butcher replied: "I wouldn't say the competition element feels any different because I think what it's actually highlighted is how focused I and the other drivers are when we're inside the car.

"I'm not so aware of the fact that there isn't a crowd or spectators on the bankings or we don't have all the guests on for the grid walks. I've got one thing on my mind and that's what's about to happen in the race or the qualifying session but, once you get out of the car, the only thing I would say is without the crowd, and without the sponsors and the fans, we have lost that atmosphere that the British Touring Cars has. It's a shame.

"It's only going to be temporary and, once the restrictions are lifted, whether it's this year or next year, we'll have that buzz and that buzz around the paddock again."

Coverage of Saturday's qualifying session, and Sunday's race day, is live on ITV4.