WITH the dust having settled on a thrilling, yet unusual, Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship, Rory Butcher has, by his own admission, "ups and downs" to look back on.

In a shortened season that began in August – instead of March – and ended last month, the 33-year-old went on to finish fifth in the drivers' standings.

Having returned to Motorbase Performance and getting behind the wheel of their new Ford Focus ST, the Kirkcaldy-born driver – whose father, Derek, is CEO and owner of Knockhill Racing Circuit – went through a rollercoaster of a year.

Four podiums – including a race win at Oulton Park – in the opening nine races was followed by a victory at Knockhill, only then to suffer the biggest crash of his career at Silverstone four weeks later.

In the final race of that weekend, Butcher was sent into a barrel-roll after contact with Halfords Yuasa Racing's Matt Neal, sending him sliding across the grass at high speed before making heavy impact with the barrier and rolling back onto the circuit.

Luckily, he escaped unharmed, but admitted the incident did leave him feeling "tentative" around other cars for a time.

Butcher, however, believes that the experiences of this year will stand him in good stead for a fresh attempt at title glory when the BTCC is scheduled to resume in April.

"That was actually quite a big thing to get over," he told Press Sport of the Silverstone incident.

"It was the biggest crash of my career and the team had to rebuild the car in two weeks, which was a massive effort, and for me, psychologically, getting back in the car and then fighting at the front again took a little bit of brain space to do that.

"It's quite interesting. Straight after it, I just felt hugely frustrated that it had happened, but I think as time passes you start to realise that you feel very fortunate that you were unscathed; the car can be repaired but you can't.

"At Croft, which was the round after, I was a bit tentative having cars around me and it took me three or four laps to push the car to its limits again. I got rid of those cobwebs quite quickly but you never know, subconsciously, I'm sure there was still some tension there which takes time to get over."

Of the season as a whole, he continued: "It's been a big learning experience.

"There was a couple of circuits we went to in the middle of the year where we had never tested with this new car and it took us almost the whole weekend to get on top of the car set-up and become really competitive. I think what we learned from that will hold us in good stead next year.

"Also, from my point of view, this is a very cut-throat championship and you never stop learning as a driver. I think the ups and downs I've had this year will help me go into next year with a better chance of fighting for the overall title."

The Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship for 2021 is scheduled to begin over April 3-4 at Brands Hatch Indy, with Knockhill hosting rounds 19, 20 and 21 on August 14-15.