RORY BUTCHER believes there is no reason why he shouldn't be in British Touring Car Championship title contention after switching teams.

The 33-year-old will jump behind the wheel of a new car for the 2021 edition of the series after agreeing to join Toyota Gazoo Racing UK, with whom he will make his debut for a manufacturer-backed outfit.

Fife race ace Butcher, whose dad, Derek, is the owner and CEO of Knockhill Racing Circuit, finished fifth in last year's revised season in the Ford Focus ST of Motorbase Performance.

He had joined them from the Cobra Sport AmD with Autoaid/RCIB Insurance Team, with whom he had spent the previous two seasons, culminating in winning two trophies in 2019.

Butcher, who also finished fifth overall in that season, claimed the Independent Drivers' Championship – for competitors not backed by manufacturers – and the Jack Sears Trophy, which is contested by those who had not previously scored an overall podium position before the season began.

Since his BTCC debut in 2017, at Knockhill, Butcher has become one of the paddock's most highly-rated drivers, having racked up six wins, 14 podium finishes, three pole positions and five fastest laps during his first full three seasons.

Although promising title challenges in each of the last two years didn't quite manage to bring home the silverware, he is confident that working with Toyota Gazoo Racing UK can take him closer to the top of the standings from the campaign's outset.

"Despite 2021 being only my fourth full season in the BTCC, the (Toyota) Corolla will be the fifth touring car I’ve driven, so hopefully I can bring some of that knowledge to its continued development and perhaps even improve it further," Butcher explained.

"It was arguably the most competitive car on the grid by the end of last year – the team definitely seems to have a proper handle on it now in all conditions and both with or without ballast, so I can’t wait to get behind the wheel to experience it for myself!

"Over the past 12 months, I really feel like I’ve matured as a driver, and I’m now much more capable of looking at the bigger picture and putting a championship campaign together.

"I obviously had a good crack at that in 2020, and whilst things didn’t ultimately go my way, that’s just part of the learning curve and it has unquestionably made me stronger. It’s all about racking up the points in this game – the podiums and wins are a bonus – and there’s no reason at all why we shouldn’t be fighting at the front right from the start.

"Moving to a manufacturer-backed team has been a goal of mine ever since I joined the BTCC and I have no doubt that this will give me my best chance yet of truly fighting for the championship."

While it's all change at his former team – Motorbase have been acquired by a new team principal and managing director – Butcher is looking forward to linking up with his new outfit's team principal, Christian Dick, a former rival in the British GT series.

"I’ve known Christian for some time, going back to when we raced against each other in British GT in 2010," the Fifer continued.

"We battled it out for the GT4 title that year so I’ve always had a lot of respect for him and have taken note of what Speedworks have achieved in the BTCC, especially in recent seasons.

"Over the past couple of years, we had a few casual conversations about maybe working together at some stage, and when the opportunity finally presented itself, I jumped at it.

"I'm also immensely grateful to my personal sponsors for their ongoing support in helping to make this deal possible, particularly during such tough economic times."

Butcher, who will make his 100th BTCC start when the 2021 season begins at Thruxton on May 9, is linking up at Toyota Gazoo Racing UK with Northampton-born Sam Smelt, who was a team-mate in 2018.

Team principal Mr Dick added: "We’re all delighted to welcome Rory and Sam to the team for the 2021 campaign.

"We believe they represent the perfect blend of youth and experience and that they can help to drive us forward as we target all three titles for the first time in the BTCC.

"Rory’s calibre is clear to see. It’s easy to forget sometimes that he only has three full seasons in the championship under his belt because he drives with all the confidence and panache of somebody that has been involved in the BTCC for much longer.

"His progress has been highly impressive – what he has accomplished since making his debut in the series is quite remarkable, and to already have two titles in his pocket is a phenomenal feat. Hopefully, we can achieve the next one together.

"We have had many on-track battles with Rory and he has always been a very hard but fair racer who leaves nothing on the table, so we are really looking forward to having him in the team.

"He brings with him a fresh perspective and new ideas, and he is a hard-worker with an exemplary attitude.

"I have no doubt that he will be pushing for race wins in the Corolla right from the outset."