DOWN DAY FOR SUNSHINE.CO.UK AT DONINGTON After a season full of the highs of motorsport, Team sunshine.co.uk with Tech-Speed endured its most difficult weekend of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season in the penultimate round of...
DOWN DAY FOR SUNSHINE.CO.UK AT DONINGTON
After a season full of the highs of motorsport, Team sunshine.co.uk with Tech-Speed endured its most difficult weekend of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season in the penultimate round of the year at Donington Park.
The team headed to the re-opened East Midlands circuit on the back of strong weekends at both Silverstone and Knockhill, but both Widnes-racer Paul O'Neill and Guernsey-based team-mate John George found themselves out of luck in the latest three races of the campaign.
Paul was in impressive form in qualifying to secure the seventh quickest time at the wheel of his BTC-spec Honda Integra but was unable to match that performance on race day due to a mysterious handling issue on his car.
Having been forced out of the opening race after an incident involving Tom Boardman on the exit of Coppice, Paul did well to battle through the field to twelfth in race two before the problem with his car forced him out of the final race of the weekend.
Despite failing to score a top ten finish on a race weekend for the first time this season, Paul remains inside the top ten overall and is fifth in the Independents' championship heading to the final round at Brands Hatch in three weeks time.
"Qualifying was great but we had a problem with the car which we chased all weekend but were unable to resolve," he said. "We need to look into it back at the workshop and solve the problem for Brands Hatch, but this has been a tough one for us. As a team, we always do our best but unfortunately this weekend, it wasn't good enough.
"However, as we have shown all season, this team is one of the best in the paddock so we'll put the weekend behind us, forget what happened and come out fighting for a good end to the year on Finals Day."
Team-mate John started the opening race of the weekend from 16th on the grid but a poor start saw him lose places when the lights went out, with his Honda sitting 18th after an early Safety Car period. A multi-car accident ahead on the restart saw John forced to pick his way through damaged cars and foam barriers littering the circuit at Goddards and he made the most of the chance to pass numerous cars and finish just outside the points in twelfth place.
After a 16th place finish in race two, John matched his race one result in the final race of the weekend to add more points to his Independents' championship challenge and to help the team to maintain third in the Independents' team standings.
"Things started well in practice but I didn't get the best from the car in qualifying so was lower than I should have been on the grid," he said. "I have to admit that my start in race one was terrible but then there was carnage and we were able to make up places. Races two and three were better although things got a bit spread out, but this weekend just makes me more determined to have a good run at Brands Hatch and end the year with another top ten finish."
Tech-Speed chief Marvin Humphries saw his team work hard throughout race day to try and remedy the issues that emerged at Donington and said the team would now work hard to ensure a successful end to the year in the season finale.
"Things went okay for John but on the whole, Paul has summed it up really; it just wasn't our weekend," he said. "We had an issue with the handling of the car, which need to look at when we get back to base and fix the problem for the final rounds. This is the first really bad weekend we have had this season but it happens in motorsport. We will pick ourselves up from it and chase a good end to the year at Brands Hatch."
Sunshine.co.uk MD Chris Brown shared in the disappointment following the weekend and vowed that the team would come back fighting on Finals Day to repay the support shown by BTCC fans in recent weeks.
"The fact that this season has gone so well for us makes the difficult weekends harder to swallow, but they happen to everyone at some point," he said. "It's disappointing for Paul to have been unable to add to his tally and also for John that he couldn't break into the top ten after his recent strong performances. However, it's an indication of the job that both drivers, and the guys at Tech-Speed, have done all year that we can have a tough weekend like this and still be third in the Independents' standings at the end of it.
"Away from the track, I want to also say thank-you to the fans who have expressed support for Paul and the team in the two weeks between Knockhill and Donington Park. It's hugely appreciated, and after a tough weekend here, the whole team will be looking to repay that backing at Brands Hatch."