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BTCC Driver of the Year vote: 8th
20 December 2011 Top 10 BTCC Drivers of the Year 2011:8:
GoMobileUK.com with Tech-SpeedCar:
Chevrolet Cruze (S2000)Wins:
Having punched above his weight for a number of years in an outdated BTC-spec Honda Integra, hopes were high that Paul O'Neill would be given the chance to become a regular contender at the front of the field in 2011 after Tech-Speed managed to get hold of the title-winning Chevrolet Cruzes from the 2010 season.
Driving the same car that had carried Jason Plato to his second championship crown, O'Neill headed into the new campaign hopeful of winning in the series for the first time since his Vauxhall days, although it would soon become apparent that he – like the rest of the drivers in normally-aspirated cars – would face a battle against his turbo powered rivals.
The season started well with a podium finish in the opening rounds at Brands Hatch, but just four points finishes would follow through the first half of the season as the turbo-powered cars drove home their advantage and both O'Neill and Tech-Speed got to grips with their new machine.
When racing resumed after the summer break however, it was a different story. A strong weekend at Snetterton saw O'Neill take his second podium finish of the season with a fine run to second place in race three, and after a difficult weekend at Knockhill, he then repeated his podium success at Rockingham where he also secured a front-row start for the first time.
More solid results followed at Brands Hatch although a tough end to the year at Silverstone meant O'Neill was pipped to ninth in the standings by the factory Chevrolet of Alex MacDowall.
Although he didn't manage to get the victory he craved in a real season of two halves, the results from Snetterton onwards showed why O'Neill is so highly regarded and ensured that his legions of fans had reason to cheer in what was often a turbulent campaign.BTCC Driver of the Year Top 10:9. Rob Austin10. Tom Onslow-Cole