Simon Belcher's Promising Knockhill Pace Not Rewarded With Results‏

Major improvements in pace unfortunately went unrewarded for Simon Belcher at Knockhill in Fife on Sunday, 24th August, after three challenging Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship races at the home of Scottish motorsport.Heading into the weekend with boosted confidence after a fruitful run during the official BTCC tyre test at Snetterton three weeks ago, the Swindon driver made good on the improvements found with his Toyota Avensis with a season-best showing in the second Knockhill free practice.Frustratingly, driveshaft failure in qualifying on Saturday, 23rd August, then set the tone for three trying encounters although Belcher did manage to steer his Handy Motorsport-run car to within little more than a second of the top 20 in the opening encounter on Sunday morning.“We had promising pace this weekend, but no luck”, said the vexed 40-year-old, “Second free practice went incredibly well for us, we were really looking strong going into qualifying but then the driveshaft broke which wrecked any hopes of a good starting position for race one.“Having said that, we were lapping with much better pace overall this weekend and we have made a big step forward with our competitiveness. The results this weekend didn’t show that, but that’s just how it goes sometimes.”After bedding himself in during the dry opening free practice session on Saturday with 26th position on the timesheets, Belcher delivered his most competitive showing of the year so far in session two with the 16th quickest time from the 30 competitors taking part. Notably, his time of 57.876 seconds (78.80mph) placed him just 0.4 seconds shy of the top 12 in the rain-affected run.Buoyed significantly by that performance, Belcher headed into qualifying – which took place on a drying track – with confidence high but his hopes were shattered when the driveshaft on his Toyota failed on the out-lap from the pits. The team did a superb job to replace the part but with only five minutes remaining in the session at that point, there wasn’t time to set a representative lap.Therefore lining-up 29th on the grid for round 19, the KÄRCHER-backed driver made a very good start and gained a couple of places off the line before being put wide into the first corner. Bundled back to 30th position at Duffus Dip on lap two, he then set about trying to recover but on lap eight he was forced to come to a near-standstill when Daniel Welch collided with Robb Holland at the chicane.Emerging in 27th place, Belcher gained another spot when Andrew Jordan retired with damage on lap 15 and then the Safety Car was deployed into the final third of the race. Gaining a fistful of places over the last few laps, Belcher took the flag in 21st position just 1.1 seconds shy of the top 20.Beginning round 20 from his race one finishing spot, the Wiltshire driver opted to run the softer compound Dunlop tyres but wasn’t able to make them count after being shuffled back several places on the opening lap. Then, an excursion required a visit to the pits to remove grass from the radiator.He ultimately managed to recover into 24th place and, notably, his pace was very impressive with a fastest lap of 53.223 seconds – just a tenth of a second shy of the pace produced by eighth placed finisher Dave Newsham.Starting in 22nd position for race three, Belcher didn’t make the launch he needed or wanted and the sluggish getaway dropped the Handy car to the tail of the field. He recovered well, though, into 23rd position six laps from the finish where he then remained to the conclusion.“All three races were tough”, he reflected, “I got pushed off in race one, so to come back to finish just outside the top 20 wasn’t a bad result at all and meant a better start for race two. I had to pit to clear grass from the rad after an off in that race, so that spoiled things, but the pace was good. In race three, I completely messed up the start so, all in all, it was a bit of a frustrating day.”There are only two weeks to wait until the next three races on the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship calendar, rounds 22, 23 and 24 set to take place on 6th/7th September at Rockingham in Northamptonshire.Provisional 2014 Dunlop MSA BTCC ‘Independents Trophy’ standings (after Rd21):24th Simon Belcher, 3ptsProvisional 2014 Dunlop MSA BTCC ‘Independents Team Trophy’ standings (after Rd21):16th Handy Motorsport, 47pts