SIMON Belcher declared himself happy to have finished all three of the weekend’s Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship races at Snetterton 300 Circuit in Norfolk on Sunday, though he was less satisfied with the overall pace of his Toyota Avensis.
While somewhat frustrated with the out-and-out performance at his disposal, the Swindon driver was pleased to have battled the odds successfully – power steering failure in race one and fuel pump issues ahead of the second encounter making for a challenging event.
Out of it all, race two proved to be the best of the three outings, with a strong performance from Belcher on his way to 21st position overall. Importantly, his three solid finishes delivered Independents Team Trophy points for Handy Motorsport to keep the squad in 15th place in the standings.
“We struggled a bit this weekend, we haven’t had the overall pace but it was important to post three good finishes and get more miles under our belt,” said Belcher. “I’ve never really hooked it up around Snetterton, and I’m not entirely sure why, but we’re back there on Tuesday for an official BTCC test so we’ll be trying some different things to hopefully make more progress.
“Race two was our best this weekend, we had to start from the back because of a fuel pump problem but came through in the end to 21st place which was pretty good going. Power steering failure in the first race didn’t get things off to the best start, it’s been quite tough but we came away with three finishes and everything in one piece.”
Beginning round 16 from 27th place on the grid, Belcher’s hopes of a climb through towards the top 20 were thwarted by power steering problems but he remained on track and kept chipping away to eventually take the flag in 25th place.
Hopes of an improvement in round 17 looked all but gone prior to the start when a fuel pump issue meant the Toyota had to start from the back of the 30-plus car grid. Climbing into 27th place prior to the emergence of the safety car, at the re-start on lap five he continued to run well and made a series of gains as others came to grief to leap into 22nd place by lap eight.
Moving into 21st position a lap later the Handy Motorsport racer remained there to the finish on lap 15 to cap a strong result and just reward for the efforts of the Handy mechanics.
Starting inside the top 20 for round 18, Belcher was unfortunately bundled back on lap one after being held out wide at Montreal Hairpin and then again at Palmer. Slipping to 27th place, he made his way back up the order into 23rd position by the finish.
The Handy Motorsport squad will be returning to Snetterton tomorrow for an officially timed BTCC test day, which is set to be attended by the vast majority of teams. With a lot of hard work planned, Belcher is confident of unlocking more of his car’s potential.
“Tom (Ingram – driver at partner team Speedworks Motorsport) has being running a different set-up to us on his Avensis, I’ve been reluctant to change ours as I wanted to stay with what we know but, on Tuesday, we’ll be trying that,” he said. “Hopefully we can find more pace and performance to take to Knockhill in a few weeks.”