Paul O'Neill says he is confident of fighting towards the front of the field as the HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship season resumes this weekend at Snetterton.
The former Vauxhall works driver has impressed on his return to the championship this season with Team sunshine.co.uk with Tech-Speed, running at the front at both Thruxton and Croft before running into problems that robbed him of a potential podium.
With team-mate Martyn Bell
forced out of the weekend by a knee injury, O'Neill will run alone for the weekend and will look to build on an encouraging performance at Snetterton during the recent official test.
That test saw O'Neill post the fourth quickest time during the morning session, although his running during the afternoon came to an early end due to an issue with the engine in Honda Integra, which was close to its mileage limit.
“I always look forward to racing, but I really can't wait for Snetterton – it seems to have been a long summer!” he said. ”After the test session, I am confident that we have a strong package and can be right in the mix in both qualifying and on race day.
“We were able to learn a lot in the test, although it was unfortunate that we had a problem with the engine. Prior to that, we were able to carry out some good qualifying simulations and a really good race run, but I don't feel we really showed our hand and can be confident going into the weekend. I genuinely think we can show the kind of speed we had at Thruxton, so it should be good.”
O'Neill added that he was keen to try and secure a strong finish for his absent team-mate, admitting that he would miss the practical jokes which have been commonplace between the pair during the season to date...
“The only downside is that Martyn won't be there for the weekend, which is a shame both for me and the team,” he said. “It's always good to have someone to work with and to share data with and we'll be chasing a good result for Martyn as much as anyone else as we all think a lot of him.
“There is also the problem that there won't be any size eleven trainers in the garage for me to hide sausages and ketchup in, which means I'll have to find someone else to poke the fun out of!”