Testing times for Swindon driver Simon

First published in Sport

BRITISH Touring Car Championship newcomer Simon Belcher says he and his Handy Motorsport squad are making “considerable” progress after their latest pre-season test outing at Oulton Park on Tuesday.

Providing the Swindon racer with his first meaningful dry weather running since he confirmed his graduation to the BTCC at the end of last year, the 40-year-old consistently improved his lap times throughout the day at the wheel of his Toyota Avensis and reported significant gains with set-up.

While the beginning of the unofficially timed test was wet, by late morning conditions had improved enough for slick Dunlop tyres to be used. Avoiding any dramas, Belcher put together an impressive day’s work and was buoyed by the end result.

“This was the first opportunity I’ve had to have some solid track time in the dry and we made really good progress”, said Belcher.

“It started out wet but then did dry up mid-to-late morning, we kept bringing our times down and down all day and we’ve certainly got more stability in the car now.

“We’re not right up there with the front-runners and we obviously don’t expect to be at this stage, but, all in all, for our first proper dry run – especially with me being new to touring cars – we’re in a good position. I don’t think the times we managed at Oulton were too shabby at all.”

With the start of Belcher’s debut season in the UK’s biggest and most popular motor racing category edging ever closer, more quality track time over the next couple of weeks will be crucial preparation as the double Renault UK Clio Cup Masters Cup champion gets ready to realise his long-held dream of racing in the BTCC.

With a day’s running scheduled for next week at Brands Hatch in Kent, the Wiltshire driver will then join the rest of the 2014 British Touring Car Championship field for the officially timed pre-season test and Media Day at Donington Park on Tuesday March 18. Until then, Belcher is happy to reflect on a very positive Oulton Park experience.

“The car felt good on Tuesday, there are definitely some big improvements from the handful of dry laps we managed previously at Silverstone – the car is considerably better” he added, “It’s all really exciting, all very positive and the car is still in one piece which is the important thing.”

Rounds one, two and three of the BTCC season will take place on Sunday March 30 at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit.

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