STUNNING START FOR SUNSHINE.CO.UK AT THRUXTON Team sunshine.co.uk with Tech-Speed Motorsport enjoyed a stunning start to the new Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season at Thruxton, with Paul O'Neill securing a well earned podium ...
STUNNING START FOR SUNSHINE.CO.UK AT THRUXTON
Team sunshine.co.uk with Tech-Speed Motorsport enjoyed a stunning start to the new Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season at Thruxton, with Paul O'Neill securing a well earned podium finish and John George scoring points on his debut for the team.
Widnes-ace Paul qualified tenth on the grid at the wheel of his Honda Integra but a storming drive up the order saw him take the chequered flag in fourth place, having closed rapidly on third-placed Mat Jackson through the closing laps to finish just half a second from the podium.
A quick start in race two saw Paul climb to third and he harried the works Chevrolet of Jason Plato throughout the first twelve laps before the Honda of Matt Neal became involved in the fight for second. Neal managed to get ahead into third place but then tangled with Plato, with Paul taking advantage to get ahead of Plato's Chevrolet and secure his second podium finish for the team.
From seventh on the grid in race three, and with extra ballast in the car, Paul secured a sixth place finish which leaves him in a hugely impressive fourth in the overall championship standings and third amongst the Independents.
"We've shown we are a force to be reckoned with this weekend," he said. "Everything I said was possible before the weekend has come true, but I didn't imagine I'd be leaving Thruxton so high up in the standings. The results in all three races were gained on merit, we weren't handed anything, and it shows that the car is still more than capable of being in the top six with good preparation -- and the team has done a fantastic job with them.
"The podium at Snetterton last season was special as it was the first one for six years, but I really felt I deserved my third place this time around. We've been one of the top teams this weekend, the boys have worked to the maximum, and we have to try and build on it at Rockingham."
Team-mate John enjoyed a solid debut in the second Honda, with an impressive drive in the opening race seeing the Guernsey-based racer score his first top ten finish in over a year. Having started at the rear of the field, John showed impressive pace throughout the race to bring his car home in ninth place.
An error at the final chicane in race two left John with a 17th place finish and while he was forced to retire in race three with a gearbox issue, he was happy to have achieved his pre-race aim of bringing home points for the team.
"I've had a brilliant weekend," he said. "Ninth in the first race was my first points finish for over a year, so it was a great way to start. The car was strong all weekend and I really enjoyed working with Paul; it's been great to have a team-mate for the first time. It was little bit disappointing that I had the gearbox issue in the final race but my times have improved throughout the weekend which was my main aim. I'm looking forward to being back in the car at Rockingham."
The results over the course of the weekend were just reward for the work carried out by leading Independent outfit Tech-Speed during the winter, with the older BTC-spec Honda Integra showing it is still more than a match for more modern machinery on the grid.
"We came here thinking a podium was possible after the work we did over the winter, we worked on the set-up and it was kinder on its tyres," Tech-Speed chief Marvin Humphries said. "The cars worked well on track and the boys did a fantastic job with them. We've shown that we can still get decent results with an old car. John did a good job throughout the weekend and fitted in well, although it was a shame that he had the gearbox issue in the final race. As for Paul, what can I say? The podium in race two was a great result and he drove well all day - the boy done good!"
The results during the course of the weekend -- a weekend which marked the home event for title sponsor sunshine.co.uk -- means the team sits fourth in the overall teams' championship and third in the Independents Team Trophy.
"We had a suspicion we were going to do well here and Paul said a podium was possible -- and that's what happened," sunshine.co.uk MD Chris Brown said." We have proved to some of the doubters that an old car can still be competitive and that the team is more than capable of fighting near the front. Seeing both cars in the top ten in the first race was phenomenal and John did an excellent job to get into the points. In the second race, I felt physically sick for the final two laps and Paul did us proud to get onto the podium -- if anything he was unlucky not to get through to second. I need to find a copy of the points standings so I can frame it, and I hope that we can now carry on as we have started."