Paul O'Neill is on the lookout for a BTCC drive after finally getting his racing licence back.

The popular scouser was forced to sit out the season with illness but is now out to reclaim his place on the grid.

"I've been out for almost a whole year now," he told "It's six months since I got diabetes and they said it would be six months until I could get my licence back. I went to the MSA, they checked me over and said I was fine. All I had to do was sign a bit of paper and I that was it.

"So my licence came in the post the other day and I know need to pester everyone to give me a go in their car."

O'Neill has kept himself fit during his time out and the focus now it on securing a drive back in the sport he loves.

"I've got to be realistic," he said. "This year is going to be a no-no. I would only come back to the series if a car was available to get up the front of the grid. I don't want to be middle getting bashed about.

"If there was something out there for this season then it would be a bonus, but I'm focusing on 2005."

With James Thompson linked to a move to the new World Touring Car Championship for 2005, there is a possibility of a race seat becoming available at O'Neill's old Vauxhall team, and he admits that were that to happen, he'd hope to be in the frame for a drive.

"Obviously I drove for them for two years," he said, "but I'll drive with anyone who can win me the championship or win me races. When you race in the BTCC, you do it because you want to win the title, and a car that will win races is a car that will win the title.

"I do have strong links with Vauxhall but they are done and dusted, I had to be dropped because of a medical condition. I would love to go back, I have a lot of friends there and I'd like to think they respect me for doing a good job. I always brought the car home and I was always a team player. If one driver left and there was a space with the team then I'd like to think my name would be near the top of the list."

One stumbling block that could hit O'Neill in his quest to return to the grid is his desire to find a paid drive. It is a well known fact that the number of drivers on a salary in the BTCC isn't huge, and three drivers missed the last round at Knockhill as a result of financial problems.

O'Neill acknowledges that, while he wants to be paid, he will try and bring money with him if it means he can get back behind the wheel.

"My heart lies in the BTCC," he said. "That is where I see my career, if indeed I have a career in motorsport. There is a financial stumbling block in motor racing and especially in touring cars. It is difficult but I've got to remain positive.

"There are a few people in the paddock who should be getting paid, people like myself and Colin Turkington who can run at the front deserve a salary. That's what I'm looking for.

"As far as I'm concerned, I don't have the money to pay for a drive, but if I had to go out and find a sponsor for four of five months, if I had to find a sponsor, then that's what I'd do."

If O'Neill is to return to the championship he would hope for a better performance than he put up at Knockhill where he joined members of the media for a bike race after the action drew to a close on Saturday.

Paul Rayner of came home first from's very own Andy Stobart with PR maestro Paul Jurd third.

But as Mr Stobart added afterwards, there was a reason for O'Neill trailing in at the back.

"He though we were doing a formation lap," he said. "Obviously he is a lot fitter than us so he went on and rode loads of laps while we all died."