Essex-based Cobra Sport AmD Autoaid/RCIB Insurance Racing snatched the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Independents Teams Championship, Independent Drivers Championship and the Jack Sears Trophy after a fantastic 2019 season.
The team secured four race wins and three pole positions across the 10 rounds and 30 races this season, with Sam Tordoff scoring one win and Rory Butcher scoring three on his way to the Independent Driver’s title and Jack Sears Trophy.
The West-Thurrock based team purchased two Honda Civic Type R’s from the Eurotech Racing team over the winter with Team Principal Shaun Hollamby admitting: “The opportunity to purchase the ex-Eurotech Hondas was one that was too good to turn down as you only have to look at the stats to see what a strong package the FK2 Civic Type R is.”
During the 2018 campaign, the Eurotech Racing squad secured four pole positions and two race wins on their way to sixth place in the Teams Championship and third place in the Independent Teams Championship.
Hopes were high from the team as they entered the 2019 campaign.
The Essex-based team topped the official pre-season test at Brands Hatch thanks to Tordoff’s blistering lap time, which beat Jack Goff’s pole time from 2018 in the same car.
Despite the early pace shown by Tordoff during pre-season, it was his teammate Butcher who secured the squad’s first win of the season in the third race of the day at Brands Hatch. It was also Butcher’s maiden victory in the BTCC – he would stand on the top step twice more throughout the course of the season.
After consecutive points finishes in the first nine races of the season, Butcher would go into Croft as the joint Championship leader.
His teammate Tordoff didn’t enjoy the same successful start to the campaign with only five points finishes and two DNF’s – although he did get the team’s first pole position of the season at Thruxton.
Unfortunately, the Croft weekend was a disaster for both driver’s and the entire outfit. Tordoff qualified in 26th with Butcher in 29th after crashing out of Qualifying before he was able to set a lap-time.
The Scottish driver improved to an 18th place finish in race one whilst Tordoff battled his way up to 23rd. Race two saw both drivers scrape into the points paying positions with Butcher finishing 14th and Tordoff 15th.
Butcher further improved in the final race of the day, finishing seventh whilst Tordoff could only finish in 13th place.
A frustrating weekend at the North Yorkshire venue saw Butcher drop to sixth in the Drivers’ Championship and second in the Independent Drivers’ Championship. Tordoff meanwhile, left Croft 17th in the overall standings and seventh in the Independent Drivers’ standings after a tricky start to the season.
Team Principal Hollamby commented: “Croft was always going to be a case of damage limitation and that definitely proved to be the case!
“Qualifying was hampered by multiple red flags and the rain and it didn’t go our way, with the accident for Rory and Sam being delayed in getting out for his final chance to set a lap-time.
“The real highlight for me from the weekend was the way in which the whole team worked hard in challenging conditions, to see both drivers score points rewarded the team for their hard work.”
The West-Thurrock based outfit enjoyed a much more successful weekend at Oulton Park as the Championship reached its half-way point. A trio of top-10 finishes across the three races ensured the Essex-based squad went into the Summer break on a high.
The team racked up five double points finishes in the next five races, including two race wins – one for each driver at Snetterton and at Thruxton. This was the perfect way to bounce back after a difficult weekend at Croft.
After an issue with the car on the green-flag lap before the third race of the day at Thruxton, Scottish-based Butcher was eager to get back to winning ways at his home track, Knockhill. He secured his maiden pole position after a fantastic lap in Qualifying before winning the first race of the day after a titanic battle with Team BMW’s Andrew Jordan.
A third-place in race two and a battling 14th place in the final race of the day helped maintain his lead in the Jack Sears Trophy and also kept him in the hunt in both the Drivers Championship and Independents Drivers Championship with just six races left of the 2019 season.
Unfortunately, due to the tragic passing of his new-born son Arlo, Tordoff decided to not take-part at Knockhill, before later deciding to withdraw from the remainder of the 2019 campaign.
Mike Bushell, who had been working with the team all season filled in for Tordoff from Knockhill onwards but found the going tough at the Scottish venue. A mixture of damage and mechanical gremlins meant Bushell failed to finish in any of the three races.
However, after completing a few laps towards the end of the day’s second race, Bushell broke the lap record after dipping under the 51 second barrier.
The Silverstone weekend went much better for the Tonbridge-based driver with two top-10 finishes before a 17th place finish in the third race of the day that was heavily affected by the weather.
Unfortunately, a tricky weekend for Butcher put him out of the Championship fight after the Scot picked up just one point from the entire weekend after a 15th place finish in the first race of the day.
At the legendary Brands Hatch GP circuit, the Essex-based squad were still chasing the Independents Teams title with BTC Racing just four points behind going into the final race weekend of the season.
Butcher, meanwhile, was still in the fight for both the Independent Drivers Championship and Jack Sears Trophy. He trailed BTC Racing’s Josh Cook by 22 points in the Independent Drivers Championship but led BMW’s Tom Oliphant by 11 points in the Jack Sears Trophy.
In the race for the Independents Teams Championship, BTC Racing endured a very tricky weekend with Cook finishing 13th and fifth after failing to finish in the first race of the day whilst teammate Chris Smiley failed to get in the points with two DNF’s and a 24th place finish.
With Butcher finishing in the top-10 in all three races, including a second-place finish in race three and Bushell also finishing sixth in race one, the Cobra Sport AmD Autoaid/RCIB Insurance Racing squad wrapped up the Independents Teams title whilst Butcher overturned a 22-point deficit to clinch the 2019 Independent Drivers Championship.
In the battle for the Jack Sears Trophy, a disastrous weekend for Oliphant with only one finish in the points paying positions meant Butcher also wrapped up the 2019 Jack Sears Trophy to cap off a fantastic year for both him and the whole team.
Team Principal Hollamby shared his delight at the team’s success: “We had three trophies we were aiming for at the start of the season and to have won them all is absolutely fantastic. I’m delighted for the whole team because we have worked so hard and it has a been a massive team effort.
“We made some big improvements over the winter and the support of Cobra, Autoaid, RCIB and GardX has been key as their investment in us allowed us to strengthen and move forwards. We were able to get the right calibre of driver in as success like this doesn’t happen if you don’t have the right drivers. Huge thanks have to go to Rory, Sam and Mike for their efforts.
“Rory was fantastic all year, Mike also did well again stepping in for Sam, who played a massive part in what we have achieved this year and who I know is happy at our success.”
Butcher commented: “To come away from the weekend with the Independent title and the Jack Sears Trophy for me personally, is absolutely fantastic and I think it will take some time to sink in. It’s hard to believe what we have achieved.
“For the team to also win the Independent Teams title is brilliant, and you can see in the eyes of the guys in the team just how much it means to them. I’m so pleased to be part of this team and to have had this opportunity, and I’m also happy for all of my sponsors and for the team sponsors who have made it possible.”
By Jordan Hollands.