Belcher Maintains Masters Lead Despite Tough Rockingham

Renault UK Clio Cup ‘Masters Cup’ points leader Simon Belcher managed to remain in control of the 2013 class title battle despite one of his toughest outings of the season at Rockingham.

Unfortunate contact in Round 13 on Saturday and a back-firing tyre gamble in Sunday’s Round 14 meant the reigning class champion was unable to add to his tally of ten Masters Cup podium finishes.

Belcher started the weekend positively, qualifying third in class and eighteenth overall for the opening race. A good start saw the Handy Motorsport with Pyro driver climbed as high as twelfth place overall, before settling into fourteenth.

After a short safety car period, the KARCHER-backed driver ran fourteenth until a challenge to gain a place resulted in contact, breaking his Clio’s suspension.

Light rain prior to Sunday’s race led to a tricky tyre choice between wet and slick tyres. Belcher and his team opted for wets, and it soon became apparent it was the wrong choice as the rain ceased. Struggling on his rubber, Belcher was left to settle for fourth in class and eighteenth overall.

Belcher still managed to end the event on top of the class standings though, and with the category’s ‘drop score’ ruling applied, he is 16 points clear of his closest rival heading into the final weekend of the season in four weeks time.

“Race one was a bit of a dent in the Masters battle for us, DNFs are very costly, but we managed to get some decent points in the second race,” said the 39 year old. “It looked like it would be wet, it started to rain and the sky was black when we were in the assembly area so we made the decision to go with wets. Halfway around the green flag lap though, it stopped raining!

“We had no choice but to just keep going and we managed to pick-up fourth in class. The same sort of thing happened at Croft earlier in the season, we took a gamble on the weather and it didn’t pay off. We’re still in control of the Masters, we just don’t have the points gap we did have.”