SWINDON driver Simon Belcher ended the eighth event of the British Touring Car Championship season at Rockingham with mixed feelings after hopes of a potential maiden outright BTCC points score were ruined following race three contact.
Although he was able to claim the third Independents Trophy points finish of his debut season in the UK’s biggest series on Sunday, the race almost ended dramatically for Belcher in the wall at turn one when he was tagged by Daniel Welch at 140mph at the start of the final lap.
Fortunately a superb sideways save, his second of the weekend at that particular part of the track, enabled the Handy Motorsport racer to finish 18th overall, building on a 20th place in race two and 28th in the opening contest, at the wheel of his Toyota Avensis.
“It’s only a matter of time before we get our first outright BTCC point, I’m sure of that”, said Belcher. “We had a great chance in race three and although it didn’t work out, no fault of our own, we’re definitely making progress and getting there.
“I’ve been happy with the car this weekend, we came to Rockingham quite confident we could do well and practice went okay. Unfortunately, and we’re not sure why, we went slower on new tyres in qualifying so that had an impact on where we started race one – and then the rest of the weekend.
“We started on the soft tyres for race three and didn’t know if they’d hold on, but the clutch overheated at the start which meant we were last before the first corner.
“I chased the rest down, though, and after catching them I started picking them off. I think we were up into 17th after I passed [Daniel] Welch but then he just biffed my rear corner at 140mph at turn one.
“Luckily, I managed to save it. Into a corner like that you just don’t go hitting someone – it could easily have ended up with a wrecked Toyota Avensis in the concrete wall. I think without that happening, we had a good chance of getting into the top 15 and our first outright point in the BTCC.”
Silverstone National Circuit will host the penultimate race meeting of the BTCC season on September 27-28.