Simon Belcher looks set to be back on the grid for the fourth round of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Oulton Park this weekend, after a gutsy repair job by his Handy Motorsport team following the huge Thruxton shunt he endured.
The Toyota Avensis driver suffered a dramatic roll into the scenery after a mechanical failure pitched him off the road at 200 km/h heading through the high-speed Church right-hander in race three at Thruxton, felling a tree during the shunt which left the car ‘a write-off’ according to the former double Renault UK Clio Cup Masters Cup champion afterwards.
Howwever, a hearty rebuild effort by his Handy Motorsport squad looks set to ensure that the team will make it to the grid for the fourth round at Oulton Park on 7/8 June, Belcher expecting the car to be ready to race once again by Wednesday.
“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 Belcher. “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.”
The BTCC rookie now sets his sets firmly on repaying the efforts to make him and the squad ready for Oulton Park, relishing his visit to a venue that Belcher racked up many miles at during pre-season testing.
“I’m raring to get back behind the wheel, when you fall off the horse you need to get straight back on. Oulton is very challenging from a driver’s point of view and I am really looking forward to it.”
Belcher earned further support through selling a raft of “I helped Simon out of the woods” T-Shirts, plus a number of salvaged parts from the Avensis signed by the rookie himself that were all auctioned on eBay, enabling the budget-strapped Belcher to raise no less than £5,000 through fans support alone.
“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.”
The 40-year-old currently lies 23rd in the Independents Trophy, with a best result of 18th place so far from the first nine rounds of the 2014 season.