Paul O'Neill again impressed in his second outing of the HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship at Donington Park, although an incident in the opening race ultimately prevented him from repeating his top ten results at Thruxton.
The former Vauxhall driver headed into the weekend keen to secure more points for Team sunshine.co.uk with Techspeed Motorsport, but had to settle for eleventh on the grid after suffering a misfire on his Honda Integra during the qualifying session.
However, when the opening wet race got underway, O'Neill was soon making up places before a missed gear while downshifting for Redgate saw him run wide into the gravel. Having got back on track outside the top ten, O'Neill climbed through to sixth after a series of impressive moves – including one at Redgate where he battled past Fabrizio Giovanardi and Jason Plato at the same time – and had climbed to sixth before contact from Jonathan Adam saw him spin off at Coppice with just two laps remaining.
Contact at Redgate at the start of race two left the Integra with damaged suspension and a broken front splitter, but O'Neill still managed to take eleventh place before the team gambled on a mix of dry and wet tyres for the final race – held on a wet by drying track.
However, a vibration on the warm-up lap forced O'Neill to start from the pits and despite setting the fastest lap of the race as the conditions improved, he ran out of laps in his battle to get into the top ten – despite the fact he was lapping three seconds a lap quicker than the leaders when the chequered flag flew.
“In a word, I'd say we were unlucky,” he said. “We had a misfire in qualifying which set us back a bit but it was going well in the first race until I made the mistake at Redgate. Without that, we could have got onto the podium as the car was mega. I was making good progress back up the field after that and picking people off until the incident with Adam. One minute I was defending my position, the next I was in the gravel. He was given a fine and points on his licence afterwards, so I think it shows who was at fault.
“In race race two, the suspension and splitter were damaged so I lost downforce and eleventh was okay because I was really struggling through the quick corners. In race three, we took the gamble with the tyres and it was the right call, but we just ran out of laps. The fact I set the fastest lap showed we'd have been right up there if the race had been a little bit longer.”