TRIPLE TOP TEN FOR SUNSHINE.CO.UK AT KNOCKHILL Team sunshine.co.uk with Tech-Speed Motorsport secured another three top ten finishes in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship during the annual trip to Scotland for the eighth round of...
TRIPLE TOP TEN FOR SUNSHINE.CO.UK AT KNOCKHILL
Team sunshine.co.uk with Tech-Speed Motorsport secured another three top ten finishes in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship during the annual trip to Scotland for the eighth round of the year at Knockhill.
Widnes-racer Paul O'Neill battled back from on-track incidents in the opening two races of the day, which ultimately left him lower down the results than his performances had deserved, to storm through the grid from tenth to fourth in the final race of the weekend.
Paul started the opening race from sixth on the grid although he lost two places to the LPG-powered Fords off the line. However, he soon got ahead of Tom Onslow-Cole and remained seventh through to the deployment of the Safety Car on lap 14. On the restart, Paul was one of a number of drivers to be blocked by debutant Jeff Smith, despite the Triple Eight driver being a lap down after an earlier pit-stop. Contact between Paul and the Vauxhall at Scotsman saw his Honda Integra go off across the gravel and led to damage to the steering, which meant he had to settle for eighth place.
Paul retained eighth place following the opening lap of race two and after an early safety car period, he moved up to seventh with a forceful move on the Chevrolet of Alex MacDowall at the hairpin. Paul then closed on the Ford of Onslow-Cole to move into sixth and set about chasing down the five cars ahead -- consistently lapping as the quickest driver on track as the race wore on. However, having caught up with Tom Chilton and Steven Kane, Paul was in the wrong place at the wrong time when the pair collided, with Kane's out of control BMW tipping Paul into a spin. Although he resumed, the time lost saw him drop down to tenth place at the finish.
Starting from the same position for the final race of the weekend, Paul was in fine form when the lights went out and quickly fought his way through to sixth place, where he was running when the Safety Car was deployed after Dave Pinkney went off track. When the race resumed, Paul soon got ahead of James Nash into fifth place before taking advantage of an error from Andy Jordan to go inside the Pirtek Racing man into Clark's to move up to fourth.
Although he briefly dropped behind Mat Jackson, Paul soon found a way back ahead of the Airwaves BMW driver to finish just outside the podium positions in fourth place.
"Today is what racing is all about," he said. "It's been a real rollercoaster ride where we were up one moment and down the next, but the guys kept working hard and gave me the quickest car on track for race three. That was a fantastic result for us from tenth on the grid and is almost as good as the second place at Silverstone because it is so tight round here and difficult to pass.
"It might have been different if we'd not had the incidents earlier in the day but I don't look at what might have been -- I just go out there and do the best with what has been thrown at us. John was quick again in the final race of the weekend as well and it shows the good work the team continues to do with the car and the pace that the Honda Integra has."
Guernsey-based team-mate John George qualified 14th on the grid at the wheel of the sister car, but his hopes of building on the impressive speed he showed last time out at Silverstone took a blow when he was forced to retire from the opening race early on.
Contact from the SEAT of Tom Boardman heading into turn one saw John go off across the gravel, which damaged the front of his car and forced him back to the pits. Lining up from the back of the grid for race two as a result, John battled his way through to 13th at the chequered flag, having spent much of the race stuck behind Boardman's SEAT despite having a quicker car.
The final race of the weekend saw John once again show the way in which he has improved this season as he battled his way forwards into the points scoring positions; climbing as high as ninth when he got ahead of the works Chevrolet of Alex MacDowall on lap 17. A mistake at Clark's saw John run wide and drop back to twelfth before a late race fight with home hero Gordon Shedden saw John briefly get ahead of the Honda driver.
Although he finished the race outside the points in twelfth, his performance was a further indication of the progress made over the course of the year.
"That last race was great!" he said. "To get ahead of Gordon Shedden like that ticks a box for me and I'd had a good race before that with the likes of Andy Neate and Alex. The car was really sorted and the team did a great job to repair it after the damage earlier in the day.
"It's fantastic to be out there racing these guys and showing that my recent pace hasn't been a one off. But more than anything, it is great to put in a good performance for the team as they continue to give me a fantastic car. I just want to repay them."
Tech-Speed chief Marvin Humphries was quick to praise both drivers for their performance on race day, with the older BTC-spec Hondas again taking the fight to more modern machinery on track.
"It was a good effort in the final race and Paul and John both drove well," he said. "John might have missed out on the points but he has a smile on his face and put in a really good performance that we're pleased with. He had a tough start to the day but the result in race three shows how he has improved. Paul's drive through from tenth to fourth was also a great way for him to end the day and he was right on the pace.
"Things definitely haven't rolled out way today but Paul showed in that last race that he has the pace to run at the front. The boys have done a great job again with the cars to get them out on track for all three races and we'll head to Donington keen to keep fighting."
Sunshine.co.uk MD Chris Brown was also delighted with the way the weekend came to an end after difficult times earlier on race day.
"Race one and two were a bit frustrating, but the final race was great," he said. "It's bit like Snetterton and Silverstone, where we ended things on a high.
"Paul was fantastic again and even though his fourth place in race three was a brilliant result for him and the team, he deserved more from the day. After retiring at the start of race one, John fought back really well and he showed again that he is quick enough to fight for a points-scoring finish. We can be confident for the rest of the season."