Belcher back for Oulton Park
Four weeks since a headline-grabbing, 120mph accident at Thruxton Circuit in Hampshire, Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship racer Simon Belcher is delighted to officially confirm he will be back on the grid at Oulton Park next weekend, 7th/8th June, for the fourth event of the season.
After a truly monumental effort from Handy Motorsport’s partner team Speedworks Motorsport, the KÄRCHER-backed Toyota Avensis, which was on the verge of being declared a write-off after the frightening round nine shunt, is almost back to pristine showroom condition.
While there is still a significant amount of work to do, with Stockport-based Speedworks awaiting delivery of the final few parts required to complete Belcher’s car, the Avensis should be ready to roll on Wednesday, 5th June, with a plan to try and shakedown the car the following day.
“There isn’t a lot of time left but if everything goes to plan the car should be finished by Tuesday, then stickered-up by Wednesday”, said the Swindon racer, “There’s been a bit of waiting around the last week or so with some parts not being available, but since Thruxton the Speedworks guys have been pretty much flat-out.
“The engine had to go back to Swindon [Engines] and the gearbox had to go away as well, it’s been a massive job. We’re just glad we’ve had one of the biggest gaps in the calendar to work in – if we’d only had a couple of weeks between races it wouldn’t have been possible. We’re trying to arrange a run in the car next Thursday but that all depends on availability at the circuits we can use.”
Just as important as the hard work from the team has been the incredible support from the BTCC fans, hundreds of which having rallied to help raise vital funds to assist Belcher’s return to action at Oulton Park. When his battered car was retrieved from the trees on the outside of Church Corner at Thruxton at the beginning of the month, his season looked to be in tatters.
As well as purchasing specially produced “I helped Simon out of the woods” T-Shirts, a number of salvaged parts from the Avensis – all of which were signed by the first year BTCC racer – have been auctioned on eBay. In total, the incredible support from the touring car fans has enabled Belcher to raise no less than £5,000.
“The fans have helped us out so much”, he added, “I never quite realised just how incredible they are and how much support is there for the BTCC, I have to say a massive thank you to everyone who has got involved to make sure we’re back for Oulton. We’ve obviously got a budget for damage, just not on the scale of the damage caused at Thruxton – the cost has been huge.”
Aside from the horrifying excursion at the UK’s fastest corner, the Thruxton event as a whole wasn’t what Belcher had planned. So the aim at Oulton Park, where the International Circuit will be utilised rather than the Island Circuit layout of recent years, is to get back to the sort of progress which had been made at Donington Park where he secured his maiden Independents Trophy points.
“I’m raring to get back behind the wheel, when you fall off the horse you need to get straight back on”, said the Handy Motorsport driver, “Oulton is very challenging from a driver’s point of view and I am really looking forward to it.”