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BTCC racer Belcher unscathed after 120mph Thruxton smash
Old 5 May 2014 17:10
Category: BTCC
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Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship racer Simon Belcher thankfully, and quite incredibly, emerged unscathed from a horrifying 120mph crash at Thruxton on Sunday, 4th May, at the fastest part of the circuit – bringing a nightmarish weekend to an astonishing conclusion.

Having carried a great deal of positivity into the third event of his maiden BTCC season, the visit to Belcher’s ‘home’ track was unfortunately problematic throughout. The massive accident halfway through the third race, though, was obviously the nadir and the immense damage to the Swindon racer’s Toyota Avensis places big question marks over his participation at Oulton Park next month.

Running just outside the top 20, as Belcher headed out of the ultra-fast Village corner into the flat-out turn at Church on lap 10 of the race the front suspension failed. Sending his Handy Motorsport car straight off the circuit and across the grass at unabated speed, Belcher made heavy contact with the tyre barriers which flipped his Toyota over the top and into the wooded area behind.

After disappearing from sight, the car made head-on contact with a tree which actually flattened the 15-feet tall sparring partner. Proving the strength and safety of the NGTC chassis, the 40-year-old was able to emerge unscathed – albeit for some unsurprising aches and pains. At first inspection, it is thought it could take anywhere up to a month and a half to get the Avensis back on track.

“The car is in pretty bad shape to say the least”, said the KÄRCHER-backed racer, “It’s possible the shell is repairable but that’s a job which could take six weeks to get everything sorted properly, and we only have five weeks until Oulton Park. It’s a massive blow to our budget for the year as well, so it’s a real double-whammy.

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“The important thing is that I’m alright and the Avensis stood up really well to the impact and the roll. We don’t know yet exactly why we had the suspension failure, but that is what caused the off in the first place. There’s nothing there at Church to scrub speed off, they really have to look at this as it’s the fastest corner in the UK and three BTCC cars have had big accidents there this weekend.”

Finding eight tenths of a second between the opening free practice session and qualifying on Saturday, 3rd May, Belcher lined up 25th on the grid for the first of the weekend’s races having lapped less than a second shy of the overall top 15.

Race one, round seven, didn’t go to plan when an excursion at Noble resulted in four flat-spotted Dunlops which wrecked any hope of a decent finish. After several pit visits, Belcher eventually retired on his ninth lap with handling badly affected by the worn tyres.

Leaving him 27th on the grid for round eight, the Wiltshire driver’s clutch overheated at the start meaning he lost a lot of ground. Recovering strongly, Belcher closed down the gap to the pack and by lap 10 he was involved in a three-car battle with good friend Dave Newsham and Daniel Welch.

Moving into 25th at the expense of Welch on lap 12, a two car tangle involving Rob Austin and Nick Foster on lap 14 resulted in the race being red flagged and meant Belcher was elevated into 23rd position for his best result of a very trying weekend.

“It’s certainly not been the weekend we planned or hoped for, things just didn’t go right at all and the suspension failure and accident in race three topped it off”, said Belcher, “We need to get the car stripped down now, reflect on everything in the cold light of day and then see where we stand before we make any decisions.”

Rounds 10, 11 and 12 of the BTCC season will take place on Sunday, 8th June, at Oulton Park International Circuit in Cheshire.

Photos: Jakob Ebrey Photography

Provisional 2014 Dunlop MSA BTCC ‘Independents Trophy’ standings (after Rd9):
23rd Simon Belcher, 2pts

Provisional 2014 Dunlop MSA BTCC ‘Independents Team Trophy’ standings (after Rd9):
16th Handy Motorsport, 19pts
Tags: 2014 btcc

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