The BTCC welcomed back one of its most popular figures in 2009 as former race winner Paul O'Neill finally got the chance to make a full-time comeback – having been forced to put his career on hold at the end of 2003 after suffering diabetes.
Despite a number of years away, O'Neill's return was well received by fans and he was on the pace immediately in the older-BTC spec Honda Integra run by the sunshine.co.uk with Tech-Speed team when he joined the grid for round two at Thruxton. Had it not been for a puncture in the final race, he could have celebrated his return with a win.
O'Neill also bad luck hit his chances at Donington Park and at Croft – where he again led before an alternator issue – but at Snetterton he stormed to third place in race one before bursting into tears on the podium afterwards.
In all, O'Neill picked up 19 top ten finishes at the wheel of his older machine – and a bonus point at Donington for fastest lap in race three – and was rewarded at the end of the season with the 'Magum Moment' handed out by series sponsors HiQ.
He also picked up the fan's trophy awarded by fans on the official series forum and you voted him fifth in the poll to find the top driver from the BTCC season.
sunshine.co.uk with Tech-Speed Motorsport
Honda Integra (BTC)
Independents' Championship position:
Independents' Championship points:
NB: Pole position refers to qualifying, not to grid slot for race two or three on a weekend, decided by earlier race results
Podiums doesn't include race wins