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Simon Belcher planning to step aside after Croft

Handy Motorsport’s Simon Belcher says he will have to step aside from his drive in the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) after Croft, with the team planning a replacement driver for Snetterton, Knockhill and Rockingham.

Belcher has secured a best finish of 15th so far in 2015 – the best of his two years in the BTCC so far. However the 41-year-old suffered a set-back at Thruxton for the second year in a row when he sustained heavy damage to his Toyota Avensis following a crash with AmD Tuning’s Mike Bushell.

Although he and the team were able to repair the car in time for the following round at Oulton Park, Belcher required £40,000 to repair the Avensis, which was re-shelled and rebuilt within three weeks.

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As a result, Belcher plans to step aside for three rounds after Croft, before returning for the final two events at Silverstone and Brands Hatch.

“Stepping aside from racing after Croft hasn’t been an easy decision to reach personally,” said Belcher. “We’ve discussed this at length as a team and bringing in another driver is definitely the best move for the immediate and long term future of Handy Motorsport. I’m really looking forward to Croft, I’m determined to get back to where we were at Brands Hatch at the start of the year.”

Belcher is reportedly in talks with a number of “experienced BTCC competitors” to take to the wheel for part of the season. Belcher’s long-term sponsors Kärcher and Webb Garden Power Equipment, acquired due to his contacts in the outdoor leisure industry, will continue and part subsidise the drive.

“Our plan is to be in the BTCC for the long term and to grow the team, so it makes absolute sense to look at putting another driver – who can bring some budget – in the car for a few races while we rebalance everything” added Belcher. “We’re talking to a number of drivers and we’ll then need to get everything approved by TOCA.

“Ideally, we want to announce my replacement during the run up to Snetterton after the summer break. It will be a part-subsidised drive as funding is in place from our existing sponsorship base, so that offers us a great opportunity to talk to a wide variety of drivers – some with BTCC experience.”

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