STEADY PROGRESS KEY FOR BELCHER
Simon Belcher kept his head down and produced a solid display on his BTCC debut at Brands Hatch last time out, and now the Handy Motorsport racer can’t wait to get to Donington Park this weekend (19/20 April).
The team’s supreme looking KÄRCHER-backed Toyota Avensis performed flawlessly in the season opener and Belcher improved throughout as he acclimatised himself to Britain’s most competitive racing series.
A second and a half off the pace in qualifying was immediately reduced to 1.3s over a single flyer in the opening race. Such was Belcher’s development that he was just over a second shy of Sam Tordoff’s fastest lap in the MG in the second contest, and the former Clio Cup driver then broke into the 49s bracket for the first time in race three.
Belcher enjoyed a number of good battles down the order and while he’ll be looking to make his way up the field in Leicestershire, he won’t be doing so at all costs as he considers race finishes key to his long-term progress.
As well as the racing, the Wiltshire driver will also be taking part in the ‘official’ BTCC Drivers Party on the Saturday evening at the Donington Park Exhibition Centre where top indie rock band Scouting For Girls, and support act Ferris, will be performing live sets.
“I can’t wait to be back in the car, as soon as race three at Brands had finished I wanted to get back out there,” said Belcher. “The first weekend was everything I expected and more, it was an incredible experience and I was delighted we managed to bring the car home in all three races without any damage.
“This year is all about learning and understanding the Toyota, so it’s vital we finish races and avoid taking any unnecessary risks. That doesn’t mean we’re not trying our best, but getting as much track time as possible is essential. I’m looking forward to the Drivers Party too, should be fun!”
While the pre-season Media Day and officially timed test at Donington was affected by rainfall, the outing in mid-March did at least give Belcher some useful experience of the circuit at the wheel of his Avensis.
“Unfortunately we didn’t get too much dry running during the Media Day, and none on new tyres, so getting a good, trouble-free run in the two free practice sessions on Saturday will be vital to try and find an optimum set-up,” he concluded. “While the aim is still the same as Brands, to bag three race finishes, I’m determined to break into the top 20 and I’m confident we’ll have a good chance.”