MOTORSPORT star Rory Butcher has announced that he is to take a break from competing in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship (BTCC).

The 36-year-old Kirkcaldy native, whose father, Derek, has owned and been CEO of Knockhill Racing Circuit, will be absent from the 2024 grid in order to focus on other projects and commitments.

Butcher, whose brother-in-law, Gordon Shedden, is a three-time BTCC champion, made his debut in the iconic series in 2017.

He linked up with Team Shredded Wheat Racing with DUO for the remainder of the season from its race weekend at Knockhill, replacing Luke Davenport, who was injured during the qualifying session for the earlier round at Croft.

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He has since gone on to compete in the full BTCC seasons from 2018 to 2023, the last three with current team, Toyota Gazoo Racing UK, having previously driven for AmD with AutoAid / RCIB Insurance Racing and Motorbase Performance.

During his time in the championship, he has recorded 11 race wins - including at least one in each season since 2019 - and claimed a total of 31 podium finishes, five pole positions and eight fastest laps.

In 2019, 2020 and 2022, Butcher finished inside the overall championship top five, and is a former winner of both the Independent Drivers' title and Jack Sears Trophy.

Hopes were high going in to 2023 that he could mount a title challenge following a stellar end to the previous season, where he had been the series' top points scorer over the final three events.

However, Butcher only reached the podium once in the opening 15 races, before a more fruitful second half of the campaign, which included a victory at Donington Park, a front row qualifying slot at Brands Hatch GP, and a brief spell in the lead at Knockhill.

Now, though, he has elected to take time out from the BTCC, having previously competed in other motorsport competitions, including the Porsche Carrera Cup Great Britain, the British Formula Ford Championship, the British GT Championship and the European Le Mans Series.

"As a racing driver, you’re naturally always looking ahead and building towards the next race, the next event or the next season, but having been competing for the past 18 years and with a young family back home in Scotland, as well as several other interesting projects that require a lot of my time and attention, I feel the moment is right to take a break," he said.

"Last season was a really challenging one for me. We went into it with such high hopes after finishing 2022 so strongly, and having to come to terms with the fact that we were not going to be fighting at the front hit pretty hard.

"I’m pleased that I stuck the season out, and it was nice to rediscover a little bit of form over the second half. It was good to show what I’m capable of in qualifying at Knockhill and particularly Brands GP and to get the win at Donington, but despite that upturn in performance and results, I still knew deep down that it was time to push the pause button."

Christian Dick, team principal with Toyota Gazoo Racing UK, added: "While obviously very sorry to see Rory leave the BTCC, we fully understand and respect the reasoning behind his decision and wish him well in his new ventures."