Clock ticking for Belcher
Handy Motorsport's Simon Belcher says the race is still on to try and ensure his place on the grid for the latest three rounds of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Oulton Park Island Circuit next weekend, 6th/7th June, as the rebuild of his damaged Toyota Avensis continues apace.
During qualifying for the previous race meeting at Thruxton three weeks ago, the Swindon driver was involved in a major accident early in the session when his car was hit by a rival who was exiting the pitlane – resulting in heavy contact with the barriers.
As well as ruling Belcher out of the remainder of the event, so severe was the damage sustained to the Webb Garden Power Equipment and KÄRCHER liveried Toyota the true extent of the required rebuild only came to light during subsequent days.
There has been a huge amount of work to do, more than we first thought after going over the car at Thruxton, and we still don't know if it'll be possible to be on the grid at Oulton", said Belcher, "It's a real touch and go situation at the moment, the shell won't be finished until Monday and then we'll only have four days to get the car put back together before Oulton.
"It's going to be very tight, we think we have everything in hand but it means a lot of late nights for the team. Everyone is doing the absolute maximum to try and make sure we'll be back on the grid at Oulton – only time will tell if we're successful."
As well as the long hours being put in by the team's mechanics and their Speedworks Motorsport colleagues – leading BTCC team Speedworks provides engineering support to Handy – the other notable impact of the Thruxton incident has been the hefty dent made into Belcher's season budget.
"The repair bill has certainly hit things pretty hard but I've got to say a huge thank you to all those who have pledged money so far through our Crowd Funding site – the BTCC fans really are incredible with the level of support they give", added Belcher, "To help raise a bit more funding, we're also selling off some of the damaged parts on the Handy Motorsport ebay page.
"I can't stress enough the amazing job the guys at Speedworks have done in the time we've had since Thruxton, and we also have to thank Willie Poole Motorsport for the work on the shell and Alsa Automotive who kindly offered to help us out with the paint job. We genuinely couldn't do any more than we have up to now, hopefully it'll be enough!"
Ahead of rounds 10, 11 and 12 of the BTCC season next weekend, the Wiltshire driver has a best finish of 15th position overall to his credit and despite not participating in the three Thruxton races he is still only just outside the championship top 20. In the Independents Trophy, Belcher is 16th in the standings.