Spa weekend to remember for Rory

Rory Butcher (left) on the Spa podium with team mate Jeff Smith
Rory Butcher (left) on the Spa podium with team mate Jeff Smith

Kirkcaldy racer Rory Butcher secured his first British GT podium at the world famous Spa Franchorchamps circuit in Belgium on Saturday.

Butcher, and team mate Jeff Smith, guided the Oman Racing Team Aston Martin V12 Vantage to a third-place finish in round 11 of the championship.

After qualifying in fourth place, a decision to start with slick tyres on a damp but drying track proved crucial. Butcher took the wheel from Smith at the midway point with the car already sitting in third position.

“My maiden season in British GT has been a great learning curve full of ups and downs, so to secure our first ever podium feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders,” Butcher said.

“Jeff’s hard work made my stint very comfortable and I chose to take little risk, hit all my markers and brought the car over the line for our first podium of the season.

“It felt absolutely brilliant and the team had a big part to play in this result.

“Slick tyres were risky as they might lose temperature and grip, making the car virtually un-driveable.

“The team waited until the last possible minute to make a decision and went against most teams.

“It turned out to be the correct choice.”

The second race of the weekend proved less successful for the Oman pair as they started from 14th on the grid.

A good first stint Butcher handed the car over in ninth place, but team mate Smith was blocked exiting the pit lane and dropped seven positions before eventually bringing the car home in 13th place.

“It was a real disappointment, especially since the loss of positions was out of our control and we had made superb progress up until that point,” Butcher said.

“However, we must look at the positives as we secured a fantastic podium at a prestigious circuit and made the right tyre choice under extreme pressure in race one.

“Next we head on to Brands Hatch in August for a two-hour event around the amazing Grand Prix circuit – one of my favourite UK circuits!”

Fellow Kirkcaldy driver Jonny Adam, along with Beechdean Aston Martin Racing team mate Andrew Howard, travelled to Spa as leaders of the British GT standings, but they dropped to second place, 19 points behind the leaders, after a frustrating weekend of mishaps.

Despite qualifying third and second on the grid for Saturday’s double-header, a costly decision to start race one with wet tyres saw the team finish ninth, while a burst radiator pipe in race two resulted in the V12 Vantage limping home in 15th place.

Adam said: “Sometimes things go for you and other times they don’t, and it was just one of those days where we didn’t get the breaks.

“We showed good pace in qualifying, as usual, which was very positive, and we are still in the hunt for the championship, which is the main
thing. We are already fired up to bounce back by repeating last year’s success at Brands Hatch.

“The Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 is such a strong machine and the two-hour race format really suits it, so I’m confident we can get keep our title bid on track.”

Before then, Beechdean AMR will return to the famous Belgian circuit later this month for the prestigious 24 Hours of Spa on July 23-27.