Crash.Net BTCC News
O'Neill, George seek to maintain strong start
22 April 2010
After a stunning start to the new Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season at Thruxton, Team sunshine.co.uk with Tech-Speed will look to maintain its strong form this weekend as the series heads to Rockingham for the second round of the campaign.
Paul O'Neill picked up three top six finishes at Thruxton – including a fine third place in race two – to lie fourth in the overall championship, while new team-mate John George picked up his first top ten finish for more than a season on his debut - results that mean Team sunshine.co.uk with Tech-Speed arrives at Rockingham this weekend sitting in a hugely impressive fourth in the HiQ Teams Championship standings.
O'Neill qualified strongly at Rockingham last season, putting his Honda Integra in fifth place on the grid for the opening race. Despite the fact he will carry extra ballast into the weekend due to his championship position, he said he was confident that the Honda will again be strong as he looks to add to his points tally.
“It will be the first time we have had to run with extra weight due to our championship position, but we hope to be quick again despite the ballast onboard,” he said. “I qualified well at Rockingham last season and am confident that we can score more points. We have to focus on finishing as high as we possibly can and scoring the maximum points possible from the weekend. If we could get onto the podium again, it would be fantastic. As everyone saw at Thruxton, the car is running really well at the moment and we have to make the most of it.”
Team-mate George has fond memories of racing at Rockingham, having started the final race of the weekend from pole position back in 2007 after benefitting from the BTCC's reverse grid draw.
The Guernsey-based racer started this season with the aim of scoring at least one top finish at each of the ten BTCC meetings and, having achieved that aim at Thruxton, he will look to score again at the Northamptonshire circuit.
“I am really looking forward to returning to Rockingham,” he said. “It has some great memories for me after I picked up pole in the third race of the day in my first year racing an Integra. I will always remember leading the field away; it was a real buzz and my foot was shaking so much I thought I would stall the car!
“This time around I am feeling very positive about the weekend. We ran strongly at Thruxton and the more I drive the Team sunshine.co.uk with Tech-Speed car, the more confident I get. My target is another top ten finish and to get my pace closer to Paul. Roll on Rockingham!”
Leading Independent team Tech-Speed worked hard over the course of the winter on making improvements to the BTC-spec Honda, with the results gained at Thruxton reflecting the progress made during the off-season.
With Rockingham being the scene of the team's best qualifying performance of the 2009 season, Tech-Speed chief Marvin Humphries said he was confident that the team will build on its results from the season opener.
“We learned some new things on the car at Thruxton and there is no reason why we can't go well again this weekend,” he said. “We want to build on what we achieved at Thruxton and move forwards. Paul's confidence is high after his podium and John is also looking to build on his points finish, so we are targeting another good weekend at Rockingham.
“We want to try and keep our position in the standings and score more solid points. We need to keep the pressure on the other teams and show that we aren't here just to make up the numbers. The competition in the BTCC is strong but there is no reason why we can't fight near the front again. We've started the season well and the whole team is optimistic of a good weekend.”
The Thruxton meeting marked the ideal start to the year for title sponsor sunshine.co.uk, which is based close the Hampshire circuit. Following on from the high of round one, sunshine.co.uk MD Chris Brown said he too was hopeful that the form displayed on home soil would continue at Rockingham.
“We're looking forward to the weekend as we had our best qualifying at Rockingham last season, although we suffered a bit from tyre wear on race day,” he said. “Tech-Speed has worked hard on the cars over the winter and we shouldn't see any repeat of those issues this time around. We have to put the demons from last year to rest and try and build on the strong results we gained at Thruxton.”