The Jerseyman has put pen to paper with EXCELR8 Trade Price Cars after falling short of the budget required to remain with Ciceley, who have upgraded their vehicles after providing Butel with a solid developmental platform throughout his debut season.
But Butel believes the move is far from regressive, with a handful of top-15 finishes and top spot in the Jack Sears Championship – for drivers yet to claim a podium – now his primary target. EXELER8 claimed two second-place finishes in 2020, while Butel ended the season in 26th overall and third in the Jack Sears standings.
‘We were not originally going to leave Ciceley but the team bought two new BMWs and we could not afford the new budget,’ the 24-year-old explained. ‘Unfortunately this sport heavily relies on the money you can bring to the table, but we have left on good terms.
‘I am really happy to join the new team and I think we have made the best decision for the future. The next steps now is to get acquainted with my new team and familiarise myself with the car and the way they work, once I can get over to the UK for testing.’
‘Last year we finished in third in the Jack Sears Championship. The aim this time around is to win that trophy, which I definitely think is achievable. I also want to pick up as many championship points as possible which will mean getting more top-15 finishes.’
Butel’s move into the high-profile BTCC ranks came at late notice earlier this year, having initially signed up for a second outing in the Super Trofeo European Lamborghini Series.
‘I had to learn on the job last year as I was thrown into touring cars at the last minute, but hopefully next year I will have all the prep and training time I need to ensure I perform as well as possible. Since the last race of last season I took a week off and have been doing fitness and simulator training since.
‘I cannot drive or test over here so I cannot wait to get back to the UK and get in the new car. I am hoping to get over there in February, if I can.’
Butel, who thanked Greg Mansell – the son of 1992 Formula 1 world champion Nigel, for his help throughout 2020 – added: ‘Joining a new team is like starting a new job but having to learn everything ten times as fast. The adjustment period before the upcoming season will be crucial to make sure I feel at home with the team and I am ready to perform my best.’
The first round of the 2021 BTCC season is set to take place at Brands Hatch on 3-4 April, with races being shown live on ITV4.