RORY BUTCHER is already looking ahead to next year after he brought the curtain down on his 2023 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) season.

The 36-year-old Toyota Gazoo Racing UK driver was aiming to finish the campaign on a high when it accelerated to its conclusion at Brands Hatch GP, but was left feeling deflated as a puncture dashed a likely podium place.

Kirkcaldy-born Butcher, who has worked as an instructor at Knockhill, which has father, Derek, has owned and been CEO, replicated his 2022 performance at the Kent circuit to line-up second on the grid after qualifying.

After promising to take the fight to Ash Sutton, the championship leader who went on to secure a record-equalling fourth title, the Fifer was as good as his word as the lights went out at the start of race one.

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Butcher drew alongside the pole-sitter on the run to Brands Hatch's Paddock Hill Bend for the first time, but being on the outside line left him vulnerable to attack from championship challenger, Tom Ingram, and he found himself obliged to concede his position.

He then turned his attention to keeping his Speedworks Motorsport-run Toyota Corolloa GR Sport ahead of Bobby Thompson but, approaching mid-distance, a puncture pitched him off the track at high speed.

A return to the pits for a replacement tyre left Butcher a lap off the lead, and 23rd at the chequered flag, on a troubled day's racing.

Having climbed into the points in race two, sitting 11th, suspension damage caused by contact caused him to drop to 19th on the final lap, before an early clash just ahead in race three forced him across the grass in avoidance.

That relegated him to the rear of the field, but competitive lap times helped Butcher climb back up to 15th place.

After finishing the championship in 10th place overall, he reflected: "Free practice wasn’t so straightforward, which was down to me rather than the car, so I approached qualifying in a different way.

"The track was really edgy, making it tricky to piece a lap together, but my best run felt so smooth and comfortable and I was able to hook it all up.

"It was a great feeling to be right up at the front and it really underscored how far we’ve come over the second half of the year, and from there, my goal was to finish the season on a high on race day.

"Unfortunately, lady luck then decided to desert us. I had a fantastic fight with Bobby [Thompson] in race one and I’d just managed to get back ahead when my Brands GP puncture curse struck again, which was so disappointing.

"We couldn’t catch a break in the following two races either, so from a weekend that had promised so much, we ended up leaving with next-to-nothing.

"But we’re already looking forward to 2024 – when we’ll do everything that we can to come back stronger!"