If you think success in motor racing is simply a case of driving fast, you should have a word with British Touring Car Championship driver Rory Butcher.
â€œItâ€™s tough,â€ he says,â€not just coping with the G-forces but also the heat inside the car during a race. Thereâ€™s no airflow and the heat from the engine and transmission pushes up the temperature during the 25 minutes of the average race.â€
Tough it may be, but he admits itâ€™s also great fun which is just as well because heâ€™s just signed a new deal for the 2019 season, following a successful championship debut this year.
The 31-year-old is an event manager at the family business at Knockhill Racing Circuit in Fife, alongside fellow racer, brother-in-law Gordon Shedden, sister Jillian â€“ Gordonâ€™s wife â€“ whoâ€™s managing director and his dad Derek, who is chief executive.
His first full season driving an MG6 GT had its ups and downs but overall he was pleased with his performance which saw 10 top-10 finishes and a couple in the top six and significantly â€“ apart from a major shunt on the start line at Oulton Park â€“ no serious incidents in what is a close-contact championship.
â€œNo-one gives an inch in this championship,â€ he says. â€œIf you leave a gap, someone will fill it and get past you, but if youâ€™re streetwise and defensive you should be okâ€¦unless youâ€™re unlucky.â€
Heâ€™s looking forward to getting back behind the wheel for the ten rounds of the 2019 championship, this week having signed again to drive for the Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing team.
Alongside seasoned campaigner Yorkshireman Sam Tordoff, heâ€™ll have a new car, a race-winning Honda Civic Type R â€“ the same car brother-in-law Gordon took to three championship wins in recent years.
Itâ€™s an acknowledgement of his commitment during 2018. â€œThere was a lot of competition for the seat,â€ he said. â€œMany people wanted it so Iâ€™m absolutely delighted and the car is a big step forward.
â€œWe should be much more competitive. The team has made big leaps forward and weâ€™ve got new engineers whoâ€™ve come over from the previous team owners who know the car really well.â€
Rory will be flying the Scottish flag alongside fellow Scot Aiden Moffat driving a Mercedes but theyâ€™ll be in firm competition on the track.
Heâ€™s looking forward to teaming up with Tordoff whoâ€™ll be taking part in his sixth full season in the series.
â€œItâ€™s great to have Sam on board and I donâ€™t think I could wish for a better team-mate. We enjoyed some good races together when I was with Celtic Speed in the Carrera Cup, and since he moved into the BTCC he has shown himself to be one of the top drivers with his results on track.
â€œIâ€™m sure heâ€™ll be a great reference point for me and I think weâ€™ll work together well as a pairing to push the team forward.â€
Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing joint team principal, Shaun Hollamby, has high hopes for the forthcoming season.
â€œFrom the moment we agreed a deal to purchase the two Hondas, our focus has been on making sure we signed the right drivers who would give us the best chance of success on track in 2019. In Rory and Sam, Iâ€™m confident we have found the ideal pairing and we are massively excited about what we can achieve together next season.
â€œWe knew when we brought Rory on board this year that he was a top-quality driver and his performances in the MG were outstanding. He fitted in with the team immediately and keeping him for a second season was a priority. Given the fact he now has a year of experience under his belt, I have no doubt at all that Rory will be a real contender for podium finishes and race wins.â€
Rory says heâ€™ll be enjoying Christmas but once the mince pies have gone heâ€™ll be back into his tough training regime which involves running, cycling and high-intensity workouts at his local gym to keep his weight to an ideal 70kg and maintain key core strength for what is a punishing series of 30 races.
The season kicks off at Brands Hatch in early April, but the highlight of the year for Rory will be when the BTCC circus returns to Knockhill in September.
â€œItâ€™s great to compete on my home circuit in front of friends and family and the fantastic support I get from the Scottish crowd.â€