Paul O'Neill says he is hopeful of repaying the support shown by fans of the HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship when the 2009 season draws to a close this weekend at Brands Hatch.
The Team sunshine.co.uk with Tech-Speed driver heads into the weekend having been voted as the most popular driver on the grid by visitors to the forum on the official series website BTCC.net
He will be presented with a special trophy at Brands Hatch by fan Mark Jones and Kerry Earl, who was responsible for setting up the award – funded by donations from the fans themselves – last season, when it was won by Mat Jackson.
O'Neill heads to Brands Hatch on the back of a mixed weekend at Rockingham, where he qualified in a stunning fifth place before running into problems on race day which caused him to retire from two of the three races.
However, with the GP circuit set to suit the BTC-spec Honda Integra, O'Neill said he was confident of again mixing it with the bigger-budget teams as he seeks to add to his podium finish at Snetterton earlier in the year.
“It's been a surreal year and I couldn't have hoped for more,” he said. “Considering where I was this time last season, its been an amazing campaign and hopefully it will end strongly. On paper, the GP circuit is one that should suit the car and I'm aiming to try and finish the year with another trip to the podium. The Chevrolets and BMWs are in a class of their own, but at Rockingham we got right in amongst the Vauxhalls in qualifying and have to try and do the same again.
“The fans are a huge part of the BTCC and for them to have shown the support they have throughout the year is amazing. When I have success on track, I like to share it with them, as well as with the team, my family and the sponsors, so I want a good result for everyone. At the end of the day, we are here to have fun and that's what I intend to do.”