Double Points For Tech-Speed On Tough Donington Weekend
The GoMobileUK.com with Tech-Speed team was able to come away with two top ten finishes on a difficult second weekend of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season at Donington Park.
On a circuit where rivals running with a turbo engine had an advantage over those using normally aspirated units, Widnes-racer Paul O’Neill was able to battle hard to take two top eight finishes, while Guernsey-based team-mate John George came close to opening his account for the season after finishing just outside the points in two of the three races.
Having qualified in eleventh place at the wheel of his Chevrolet Cruze, Paul battled his way up to ninth at the chequered flag in race one before the exclusion of Honda’s Gordon Shedden saw him eventually classified in eighth.
More forward progress was the aim for the second race with Paul moving up to seventh on lap one, a position he would then hold through to the tenth lap. Having got ahead of Rob Collard into sixth through Redgate, Paul looked set to lead the normally-aspirated cars home before being tipped into a spin by the BMW at the Old Hairpin which saw his race end in the gravel trap.
At the back of the grid for race three as a result, Paul was forced to back off at the start to avoid a collision ahead and did well to come through the field to take eighth place again, despite being caught up behind Collard’s BMW for a lengthy period.
Paul now sits eighth in the overall championship standings and is fifth amongst the Independents.
“We knew it was going to be a difficult weekend but I thought we could have come away from it with three top ten finishes,” he said. “We managed to get two points finishes but the incident in race two really cost me. In that race, we had the pace to match the turbos and if I’d finished inside the top six there I would have had a better grid slot for race three.
“As it was, I got held up at the start with the accident in front of me and then lost time behind Rob but we managed to come through and pick up some points. We expected it to be hard at Donington so we just have to put the weekend behind us and it’s onwards and upwards at Thruxton; our championship will really start there.”
Team-mate John qualified 18th but his first race came to an early end when he was tagged by Dave Newsham’s BMW at the start and was sent spinning off into the wall on the start-finish straight. With the car repaired by the GoMobileUK.com with Tech-speed team for race two, he stayed out of trouble to bring the car to the finish in twelfth and put himself in a good position for the third and final race of the weekend.
Avoiding an incident ahead on the opening lap, John held seventh place when the Safety Car was deployed to remove the stricken cars from the gravel but on the restart he was powerless to keep a number of turbo cars behind and slipped down to tenth.
A spin on lap nine at the Old Hairpin after he ran slightly wide while running door-to-door with Paul dropped John down to 18th but attrition ahead meant he climbed back up to eleventh at the finish.
Although still to score an overall championship point, John picked up his first two Independents’ points finishes and now sits 14th in the Independents’ championship as a result.
“We were just out-powered all the way really by the turbo cars so it was a difficult weekend,” he said. “I got a really good start in race one but then all of a sudden I got hit in the rear and next thing I knew I was in the wall. In race two, it was a case of being steady and staying out of trouble and people just seemed to want to thrown themselves off in front of me.
“It all looked good in race three and I was up in seventh place, but we just didn’t have the power to match the turbos. I was forced wide through the Craner Curves and then when Paul was side-by-side through the Old Hairpin, neither of us wanted to make contact with each other and I just got a wheel off circuit and had a spin.
“It was a shame that I missed out on the chance to score some points, but we always knew it was going to be a tough weekend here.”
Despite a more challenging weekend on track, GoMobileUK.com with Tech-Speed sit seventh in the HiQ Teams’ Championship and fourth in the Independents’ Team Trophy, with six of the 30 races to be run once again this season now complete.
“We were aware of how difficult it would be at Donington and it was an up and down weekend,” Tech-Speed chief Marvin Humphries said. “Paul did what he needed to do in race one to make up places but what happened in race two was disappointing as it dropped him to the back of the grid for race three – and it isn’t easy to come through the field against the turbos.
“John being taken out at the start of race one was unlucky but the boys did a good job to get him out for race two, and he did well in both race two and three although it was a shame he had his spin. Overall, it was just one of those weekends but we scored points in two of the three races and we’ll crack on with it when we get to Thruxton.”