Tom Butler admits he will be realising a dream this season when he tackles the Renault UK Clio Cup for the first time as part of the #RacingforHeroes programme.
Butler will be one of five drivers to be racing as part of the scheme, which is bringing the military charity Help for Heroes to the BTCC package to raise funds and awareness as well as provide opportunities in motorsport for military veterans.
Butler’s progression into the Clio Cup is the next step in a whirlwind few years for the 20 year old, who only made his car-racing debut back in 2013.
That came in the MG Trophy, with Butler finishing second overall in the championship before he swiftly moved on to the Clio Cup’s sister championship, the Michelin Clio Cup Series, for 2013.
A late deal with 20Ten Racing left Butler without any pre-season running and an uphill task for the season ahead. A strong campaign though saw the Derby-based racer pick up two top six finishes and a top ten championship finish.
“We’d planned the MG Trophy as a three year plan, but it went a lot better than we thought. Instead of doing it again, we saw the Clio Series as the perfect next step,” Butler told The Checkered Flag at the 2015 Autosport International Show.
“I only ended up signing a deal with 20Ten the Monday before the opening meeting. My first time in the car was the Friday test day of the meeting, my first time with slick tyres, a sequential gearbox and a left hand drive race car, so the season was a massive learning curve for me.
“I thoroughly enjoyed the season. Coming from the MG, which is a converted road car, to a proper race car, I was happy with my progression and results, but I just didn’t get as much time in the car as I’d have wanted though.”
Having cut his cloth in club-level racing so far, Butler appreciates the move into the BTCC-supporting Renault UK Clio Cup is a huge step forward both on and off track, but is ready for the challenge.
“Ever since I started karting it’s always been my aim to race in the Renault UK Clio Cup and it’s amazing to get this opportunity to step up the ladder again,” he enthused. “I’m going to see it as a learning year again, it’s a new car again for me to get used to.
“It’s a big step up to a more professional level of motorsport, both on and off track. I’ll probably be one of the least experienced drivers on the grid, so I’m looking forward to racing against some experienced drivers and try to learn from them.
“All round I want to take in as much as possible from the experience and try to progress as quickly as possible. To be able to represent Help for Heroes as well gives you an extra edge, you know you’re racing for a good cause, it’s a really good opportunity and I’m looking forward to it.”