Sunday, 05 June 2011 11:00
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Tech-Speed Motorsport show pace on challenging weekend
GoMobileUK with Tech-Speed Motorsport showed encouraging pace during the latest rounds of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Oulton Park, although the team was only able to come away from the fourth weekend of the season with one top ten finish.
Widnes-racer Paul O’Neill had shown impressive speed during free practice on Saturday, posting the fourth quickest time during the second 40 minute session before qualifying eighth on the grid for the opening race at the wheel of his Chevrolet Cruze.
Paul moved up to sixth on the opening lap of a wet first race but was then forced to take a drive-through penalty for being slightly out of position on the grid at the start, dropping him down to 16th place in the process.
Although he climbed back up towards the points with a series of quick laps, Paul would ultimately take the chequered flag in 13th after running wide on oil at Island Bend on the penultimate lap.
From 13th on the grid for race two, again held in wet conditions, Paul moved up to eleventh place on lap one having elected to go with a mixture of slick and wet tyres on his car.
Working his way into the points to start the final lap in ninth place, Paul got ahead of Nick Foster’s BMW and then inherited a further place after Matt Neal’s Honda went off at Lodge to take seventh place.
The reverse grid draw put Paul third on the grid for the final race but his hopes of a podium finish came to an early end when he put a wheel onto the damp part of the now drying circuit on the run to Druids on lap one.
Challenging Foster for second place, Paul got into a slide that he was unable to save and his Chevrolet went backwards into the barriers on the outside of the circuit, putting him out on the spot.
“The pace in practice and qualifying was encouraging and I think we showed we could be strong,” he said.
“In the first race, I hold my hands up and it was my mistake at the start as Tom Chilton was missing from the grid and I got out of position. That put me on the back foot and then I think someone had put some oil down and I ran wide at Island.
“It was a decent run in the second race and it looked good for race three. When I was behind the BMW, I knew I had to make a move to get ahead because I had a Honda right on my tail. It was one of those situations where I was damned if I tried the move and damned if I didn’t as it would have been hard to keep the Honda at bay. I got a wheel onto the damp patch and I thought I’d caught the car but then it snapped away from me and I was in the barrier.”
Team-mate John George qualified the sister car in 17th place despite suffering from a misfire in the half hour long session.
The Guernsey-based race made a fine start to the opening race to climb as high as eleventh by the second lap before slipping back to 13th, although his race would end early when an electrical glitch forced him to retire on the seventh lap.
From the back of the field in the second race, John climbed up to 18th place before being caught out by the challenging conditions on the run to Lodge, where he locked his brakes and was powerless to stop the car from sliding off into the gravel in the closing stages of the race.
Starting from the back of the field again for the final race, John spent much of the race fighting for position with previous championship leader James Nash but on the penultimate lap, he lost control exiting Old Hall after putting a wheel onto the grass and suffered a spin into the barrier on the inside of the circuit.
“I had a bit of a problem with a misfire in qualifying but was still quicker than I was last season so I was confident about my chances in the dry,” he said.
“When it rained, it was a bit of a leap into the unknown as I’d not driven the car in the wet before. It was a shame when the electrical problem put me out of the first race but in the second, I just lost grip and locked up going into the final corner and couldn’t keep the car out of the gravel.
“In the final race, I had a good battle with James Nash on track but then I put a wheel onto the damp grass exiting Old Hall and it was a heavy impact with the barriers on the inside. It’s been a tough weekend.”
Article courtesy Matt Salisbury
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