Handy Motorsport has dropped its pursuit of expanding to a two-car effort after failing to secure a second driver in time for a new Toyota Avensis to be built and prepared in time for the 2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship opener.
After confirming Rob Austin during the winter Handy Motorsport team principal Simon Belcher had opted to step away from driving duties in order to concentrate on the management of the squad as he aimed to bolster its BTCC effort with a second driver.
Despite already securing a second TOCA BTCC licence and negotiations which 'progressed well in recent weeks' Belcher has opted to hold off the idea of a second full-time entry until 2017.
It is believed the team needed confirmation by the end of this week to ensure it could construct a second new Toyota Avensis challenger in time for the Brands Hatch curtain raiser on the 2-3 April and after the deadline passed Belcher has opted to end its search for a second driver for the new season.
“After a lot of thought, and many discussions, we have decided to run just one car in the BTCC again this year to concentrate all of our efforts on Rob Austin and on pushing for podiums and, hopefully, race wins,” Belcher said. “We need to focus on our 'A game' to become front-runners, that's the reason we signed Rob.
“It would have been great to get a second car on the grid, but we still have a lot going on behind the scenes which will hopefully mean we'll expand as planned in 2017 after proving ourselves as front-runners this season.
“Having two cars this year and just making up the numbers isn't for us. We are here to try and win so one car makes sense, especially as we share data with the Speedworks Motorsport car Tom Ingram will be driving. Two cars aren't a necessity unless the numbers add up.”
With the second TOCA BTCC licence the team could still run a second car on wildcard entries, while Belcher himself has two years of touring car experience under his belt, but the team says it is focusing on its sole challenger with Austin for the start of 2016.
Austin and Handy Motorsport commence pre-season testing at Portimao next week with a three-day test on the 26-28 February.