Podium Start For Tech-Speed At Brands Hatch
GoMobileUK.com with Tech-Speed enjoyed a podium finish on the opening weekend of the 2011 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship after a solid showing at Brands Hatch.
The season opener marked the first race weekend for the team with its new Chevrolet Cruzes, with Widnes-racer Paul O’Neill coming away from the weekend with three top seven finishes and Guernsey-based team-mate John George making strong progress throughout race day.
Paul qualified ninth on the grid for the opening race of the weekend and made up a position on the opening lap when Matt Neal went off into the gravel at Druids. Although he briefly dropped to ninth after the Honda of Gordon Shedden barged through, Paul would ultimately take the flag in seventh after problems hit both Andrew Jordan and Tom Boardman ahead.
A trouble free run in race two saw Paul take the chequered flag in fifth place, which resulted in a third place start for race three once the reverse grid draw took place.
Paul held position at the start of the final race although he dropped to fourth after losing out to the turbo-powered Ford of Mat Jackson at Druids on lap five. A puncture for Jordan ahead allowed Paul the chance to climb back into a podium position and a series of strong laps allowed him to secure his first top three finish of the season.
The sunshine.co.uk-backed driver sits sixth in the overall standings after the first three races of the season and third amongst the Independents’ – just ten points behind early leader Jackson.
“This is just what the whole team deserves as these guys are the hardest working in the paddock,” he said. “The experience of the team and my own experience told me that the most important thing this weekend was to maximise the track time available to help us learn about the car, as we’d have learned nothing if I’d been parked in the gravel. I used my head all weekend and never gave up.
“Jason [Plato] and RML are the benchmark for us and to have been able to pull away from him in the final race was a sign to anyone who may have questioned what we can do with the car.
“We’ve got a good relationship with RML and we’re only scratching the surface at the moment with the Chevrolet and this is a good start to our season.”
Team-mate John went into the opening rounds of the season with his focus firmly on bringing home three points finishes in the sister GoMobileUK.com with Tech-Speed car.
Having qualified in 18th place, John progressed up to 14th at the finish despite admitting there was more to come as he gets used to the Chevrolet after four years competing with a BTC-spec Honda Integra.
John ran in the same position in race two before being forced to take a trip across the gravel at Paddock Hill Bend, which meant he finished the second race in 15th place, while the third race of the weekend saw him achieve his aim of three finishes as he took the chequered flag in 17th.
John’s progress throughout the weekend was measured by the fact that his fastest lap came during the third race and he will now head to Donington Park for round two looking to fight towards the points for the first time this season.
“I struggled a bit early on in the weekend but in the end I felt at one with the car and my times improved,” he said. “I wanted to try and get into the top ten this weekend, but the main thing was to spend time in the car and the improvement was shown by my times.
“I’m chuffed to bits for Paul with a podium to start the season and here’s hoping for more of the same as the year goes on.”
Following the opening weekend of the season, GoMobileUK.com with Tech-Speed sit fifth in the HiQ Teams’ Championship and third in the Independents’ Team Trophy, just ten points off championship leaders Airwaves Racing and ahead of the big budget Team Aon squad.
“We did what we set out to do this weekend,” Tech-Speed chief Marvin Humphries said. “We’ve moved forwards and have learned more about the car and it’s a excellent start to the season.
“Paul drove really well as usual to finish on the podium and John has improved throughout the weekend. The Chevrolet is a cracking car for us to work with and we’re looking forward to Donington Park.”