BTCC » 20 August 2009
O'Neill keeps run going but rues missed chance
Paul O'Neill says he hopes to continue the impressive run of form of Team sunshine.co.uk with Tech-Speed going at Silverstone, following another batch of top ten finishes in the HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) at Knockhill.
Arriving in Scotland off the back of a fantastic breakthrough podium in the previous outing at Snetterton, O'Neill's weekend wasn't as easy as he would have liked it to be. A spin in qualifying for race one and a tussle with Matt Neal which dropped the 29-year-old down to 14th at the very start of race three from a front row grid slot meant he only managed to secure ninth-place finishes in both, lapping faster than all bar the two Chevrolets of Mat Jackson and Jason Plato in the day's final encounter to show what might have been. However, these results bookended an impressive fifth position at the wheel of his year-old Honda Integra in the second race.
What's more, the trio of points-scoring finishes enabled the team to move up one place in the overall title standings to seventh, while it sits level on points with Cartridge World in the Independents' Championship in fifth.
“We've now scored points in eleven straight races, which is a fantastic achievement for a small team, and we will hopefully keep that run going at Silverstone,” commented Widnes-born O'Neill. “Tech-Speed continue to provide us with a great car, and the Honda was again one of the quickest cars on-track over the weekend.
“I've not made many mistakes this season, but I have to hold my hands up over what happened in qualifying. We'd been checking the set-up on the car and I posted a time that was second-quickest, but then on my in-lap I just got caught out on the kerbs and that was me stuck in the gravel. It was unfortunate, because we could certainly have started higher on the grid.
“Going into the weekend I said the aim was to get three points finishes – and we did that. The fifth place in race two was also a really good result, but it could have been better if I hadn't been manhandled off at Scotsman at the start of race three.
“All day I think we showed we had the edge on James Thompson (who started race three from pole) and I could have got ahead of him and made a break for it, although it wouldn't have been easy to keep Jackson and Plato behind.”
Meanwhile O'Neill's team-mate Martyn Bell, who is still recovering from an injury picked up during the summer break, paid tribute to the team following a second weekend spent on the sidelines and said that he hopes to be back in action at the next round at the end of the month.
“Hopefully my physiotherapist will clear me to compete at Silverstone because I can't wait to be back in the car,” he said. “It was strange to watch how things worked at Knockhill from the other side of the wall, as you don't get the chance to see just how hard the team is working when you are out in the car driving. Having seen the Tech-Speed guys at work throughout the weekend and had chance to watch how much effort they are putting in, I'd definitely say me and Paul have the easy job!”
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