Renault Clio Cup racer Simon Belcher is set to graduate to the British Touring Car Championship in 2014, racing a Speedworks-run Toyota Avensis under the ‘Handy Motorsport’ banner.
Belcher, 39, has spent the past three seasons competing in the Renault UK Clio Cup Championship with Pyro Motorsport, finishing 18th overall in the 2013 championship with his best results being a trio of 13th-place finishes at Thruxton and Croft. His overall best result in the series was an eight-place at Oulton Park in 2012.
Belcher will carry backing from long-term sponsor Kärcher into the series, and added that stepping up to the BTCC is a dream come true for the Swindon racer.
“I am absolutely delighted to have made it to the pinnacle of British motorsport in the BTCC, it really is a dream come true”, said Belcher. “We have been working on this deal for many months now and I am delighted to be part of the Handy Motorsport and Speedworks team for 2014.
“Due to the huge success of the NGTC [Next Generation Touring Car] regulations in the BTCC, which have created a level playing field between teams of all sizes, it’s now or never to make the move into the championship. The entry will be full in 2014 and beyond so it will become increasingly hard going forward to obtain a place on the coveted grid.”
Handy Motorsport are set to receive extensive assistance from Speedworks Motorsport for next season alongside their existing two cars, although the day-to-day preparation of the Avensis will be carried out by Handy Motorsport themselves. Belcher added that the partnership had been established to enable the team to learn from Speedworks’ three years of BTCC experience.
“Rather than build our own car in the first year, we decided it would be better to work with an existing team,” explained Belcher. “Speedworks was one of the first teams to run the NGTC cars, so have a heap of experience. They started to show what they’re capable of with some fantastic results in the last couple of BTCC events this year, hence the decision to work with Christian’s team.”
Speedworks’ Team Principal Christian Dick is looking forward to working with Belcher and his team in 2014, praising the team for their impeccable presentation in running cars thus far.
“I am delighted Simon and Handy Motorsport have chosen Speedworks as their engineering and support partners for the 2014 BTCC season,” said Dick. “Simon now has plenty of front wheel drive experience and has proven himself in one of the toughest one-make championships there is. That experience will serve him well in the BTCC, as we have seen with previous Clio Cup racers that have made the step-up.
“Handy Motorsport have always turned out a good looking and well prepared car and, with the continuation of KÄRCHER as title sponsor, 2014 looks to be a very exciting year for all involved in this project.”