SUNSHINE.CO.UK RETURNS TO PODIUM AT SILVERSTONE Team sunshine.co.uk with Tech-Speed Motorsport enjoyed a stunning weekend at Silverstone to secure a third podium finish of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season. Widnes-racer...
SUNSHINE.CO.UK RETURNS TO PODIUM AT SILVERSTONE
Team sunshine.co.uk with Tech-Speed Motorsport enjoyed a stunning weekend at Silverstone to secure a third podium finish of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season.
Widnes-racer Paul O'Neill secured a fine second place in the final race of the weekend to add to podium finishes at Thruxton and Rockingham, while Guernsey-based team-mate John George enjoyed his best weekend of racing in the BTCC even though he was unable to add to his points tally.
Paul qualified seventh at the wheel of his Honda Integra and finished in the same position in race one having spent the entire 22 laps fixed onto the rear of Rob Collard's BMW.
Having held position at the start of race two, Paul was then embroiled in a heated battle for position with Matt Neal that saw the pair swap places through the final laps as they duelled for fifth place. Matt eventually won the battle after pushing Paul wide exiting the final corner of the race to take fifth, although sixth gave Paul pole position for the final race of the day.
A good start allowed Paul to hold the lead into Copse, with contact between Neal and Jason Plato allowing him to break away from the chasing pack, only to lose his advantage when the Safety Car was deployed following an accident further down the order.
With the two LPG-powered Fords behind, Paul faced a battle to retain the lead but successfully kept Tom Onslow-Cole behind for two laps after the restart before the Ford blasted past. However, Paul was able to keep Tom Chilton at bay in the sister car and broke away from the chasing pack as he followed Onslow-Cole home for a hard-earned second place finish.
"Without the Safety Car, we had a chance to win that race but we lost the best of the tyres when it was deployed," he said. "We knew the Fords were going to be quick but I just went out there and raced my own race. I got my best start of the year and was able to defend well and second place is almost as good as a win. The fact I was able to pull away from Chilton is testament to the Tech-Speed for the job they have done in giving me a great car.
"We don't have a big budget like some of the other teams, but every time I go out on track, the team tells me to do my best. That's exactly what I did and a podium is a great result."
Team-mate John enjoyed a fine day in the second car even though a mechanical issue robbed him of a points finish in the final race of the weekend.
Having qualified 15th, John finished the first race in 17th place having been delayed on the opening lap but he then enjoyed two of the best races of his BTCC career -- although he wasn't rewarded with the points he deserved.
From 17th on the grid, John made up four places on the opening lap and then moved into twelfth before closing onto the rear of James Nash's Vauxhall. However, contact from the following BMW of Mat Jackson turning into Brooklands on lap eleven saw John suffer a spin that dropped him to the rear of the field.
Refusing to let his head drop, John battled back up to 14th place at the finish and took the start of race three looking to break into the points.
A solid first lap saw him make up two places off the line and the forward progress continued as John climbed into the top ten. Having battled for ninth with Phil Glew, John was overhauled by the Chevrolet of Jason Plato but was unable to try and battle back into the points when a mechanical issue forced him out.
"I knew all weekend that we had the pace in the car and it was great to be on it," he said, "even if it's disappointing not to be able to score a point. This has been my best weekend ever when it comes to my own performance at the wheel of the car as I was able to dice with the likes of Jackson and Plato on track.
"The incident with Jackson in race two soured it a little bit as he touched me a few times and didn't need to do that, but overall I can go away from the weekend happy with how I've performed."
Tech-Speed chief Marvin Humphries said he was pleased with the return to form after a difficult time at Snetterton two weeks earlier.
"That makes up for Snetterton a bit," he said. "We've done a good job here and it went well, aside from the issue for John at the end. Paul was probably the only person who really gave the gas cars a race today and that was a great result to end the weekend with. Three top tens and a podium isn't bad in this company.
"John did really well this weekend and you can see he is getting more confident in the car as he is out there racing with some good drivers. It was disappointing that he got put into a spin in race two and then had the problem in race three as two drivers in the top ten would have been a fantastic result for the team."
Sunshine.co.uk MD Chris Brown was also delighted with a return to the podium even though he admitted to mixed emotions at John's performance going unrewarded.
"I didn't think Paul would be able to fight the Fords but he did brilliantly," he said. "I kept expecting Chilton to find a way through, but Paul was able to drive away from him as he chased Onslow-Cole and second is a fantastic result. The second place at Rockingham was good, but here you could see he was hanging on for dear life and getting everything from the car; it was brilliant.
"I'm gutted for John as he was driving like a demon today. I honestly believe he is one of the most under-rated drivers out there. He really applied himself well on track and it is only through bad luck that his performance hasn't been rewarded with some points. Tech-Speed have once again done a brilliant job with the cars and the drivers have done us proud."
-source: team sunshine.co.uk