MOTORSPORT: Swindon's Belcher retains his title
6:00am Saturday 19th October 2013 in Latest News
SWINDON’S Simon Belcher secured the Masters Cup class title for the second year running during a dramatic, action-packed and rain-hit final round of the season at Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit on Sunday.
Going into the last race of the campaign with a slim six-point advantage over rival Lee Pattison, the reigning class champion knew he had a tough battle on his hands to retain the crown he secured in style in 2012.
But despite some robust on-track action in the challenging wet conditions and no less than three safety car periods, Belcher retained his composure and steered his Handy Motorsport car to third in class in round 16. With Pattison failing to finish following mid-race contact, Belcher won the 2013 crown by a significant 31-point margin.
“We’ve really made this championship hard work over the last two rounds with a DNF and a wrong tyre call at Rockingham,” said Belcher. “If it was meant to be, I knew the championship would come to us this weekend and it did. Third in class in the second race wasn’t enough, but I didn’t want to do anything silly and just bided my time.
“If I needed to do anything more ambitious I was going to wait until the last couple of laps. The aim was to stay with all of the other Masters drivers, which we did, but then I saw [Lee] Pattison in the gravel about halfway through the race and knew we’d got the title.
“Although the spray made things pretty frightening, the car felt good in the conditions – the team did a great job with it.”
Rain was a factor from the start of the weekend during official testing and while the opening race was dry, the conditions on Sunday were certainly more akin to the sort of thing multiple Jet-Ski champion Belcher may have experienced in his past sporting career on water.
Lining up second in the Masters class for the start of round 16, the 39-year-old knew if he could hold on to the place he would be able to retain his Masters Cup title even if Pattison won. Should Belcher slip to third or lower, a Pattison class victory would see the Yorkshireman snatch the crown.
“I was really happy to start the weekend 10th fastest overall in practice but then in Saturday’s race I got beaten-up,” said Belcher.
“At the first corner I was put straight in the gravel which dropped me to last place and so I had to fight my way back through, it seemed everyone I was fighting with wanted to take me off the track.
“I went away a little bit despondent after the first race, so I decided to go to the cinema on Saturday night to watch Rush to get me in the frame of mind I needed to be in to try and do a James Hunt or Niki Lauda sort of job in race two.
“I went out there, tried to drive the best I could, and it worked out for us. It’s been a tough year but, in the end, we did the job we set out to do – to win the Masters.”
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