SIMON Belcher will be looking to make a big impact on his first visit to the Knockhill Circuit this weekend in the British Touring Car Championship.
The Swindon driver and his Handy Motorsport team are confident of making significant strides at the challenging Fife track.
Following the previous three rounds at Snetterton 300 Circuit a fortnight ago, the 40-year-old was one of almost 20 BTCC competitors to return to the Norfolk track a couple of days later for a Dunlop tyre test which provided a key opportunity to try a variety of set-up changes.
Not only did the improvements made to his KÄRCHER-supported Toyota Avensis deliver a marked reduction in lap time over what had been achieved during the Snetterton race weekend, but the double Renault UK Clio Cup Masters Cup champion reported a much improved feel and handling from his 2.0-litre car.
“The (Snetterton) tyre test went really well,” Belcher said: “We made some big changes to the car and although the track was slightly off from what it was over the race weekend we think our net improvement was probably around 1.7 seconds – which is huge.
“We’re confident the changes we made to the car, and the improvements they gave to the overall performance and feel, should work everywhere so we're feeling buoyant and very encouraged for Knockhill.
“It’s given us all a major boost and it does look like we might be turning a corner.”
Going into the seventh event of his maiden BTCC campaign, Belcher is determined to get back in the battle for Independents Trophy points having previously scored at Donington Park and Croft.
In the Independents Team Trophy, meanwhile, Handy Motorsport has scored in 16 of the 18 races which have been contested so far and the team is currently 15th overall in the class championship.
Although it’s been several years since Belcher last raced at Knockhill in Legends Cars, with the Renault UK Clio Cup not having visited Scotland during the two seasons he raced in the BTCC feeder series, he is sure it won’t take long to re-acclimatise himself with the 1.3-mile track.
“Knockhill is definitely a unique challenge, it’s a long trip up there but always worth it as it’s a great track and the Scottish fans are always super supportive”, Belcher added. “I can’t wait to visit there as a BTCC driver for the first time, hopefully it could be our strongest weekend yet.”