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|Tough end for Tech-Speed at Silverstone|
|19 Oct 2011 10:32|
The GoMobileUK.com with Tech-Speed Motorsport team endured a tough end to its Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship campaign as the curtain came down on the 2011 season at Silverstone.
The Leamington Spa-based team made the short trip to the ‘Home of British Motorsport’ hoping to build on the performances seen in recent events at Rockingham and Brands Hatch, but was also well aware of the challenges it would face against the turbo-powered cars with its normally-aspirated Chevrolet Cruzes.
Widnes-racer Paul O’Neill qualified 14th for the opening race despite being just seven-tenths of a second away from pole position, but his hopes of challenging for points in race one came to an end when engine problems forced him to retire.
With the Tech-Speed team working hard to replace the engine in Chevrolet ahead of race two, Paul took his place at the rear of the field but he was forced to retire for the second straight race when contact with the Ford of James Thompson damaged the rear suspension on his car.
At the back of the field for the final race of the year, Paul then managed to stay out of trouble despite some aggressive driving from others in the midfield to bring his car safely to the finish in twelfth place.
Having picked up three podium finishes during the course of the season, Paul ends the year tenth in the overall championship standings and sixth in the Independents’ Trophy.
“It was a difficult weekend but we knew it was going to be,” he said. “If Saturday had gone to plan we could have had a great Sunday, but then we had an engine problem in the first race and that is something you can’t control. The second race was also tough as there was contact with James and I was forced to retire, while race three was all about just staying out of trouble and coming through to twelfth was okay.
“Overall, the season has been a real rollercoaster for us. We’ve been unlucky at times but when we’ve been on form, we’ve sometimes shown RML the way and they are the team we have had to use as a benchmark. They have a lot of experience with the Cruze whereas our boys have been learning about the car and they have all done a great job.
“With the situation we were in, we had to learn quickly and I feel I’ve become a better driver this season as I’ve adapted to the car and to the rules. In the second half of the year, we’ve had three weekends – at Snetterton, Rockingham and Brands Hatch – where it was almost flawless and it’s just a shame we couldn’t repeat that on Finals Day.”
Guernsey-based team-mate John George qualified 23rd on the grid in the sister car but enjoyed one of his best races of the season in race one as he fought his way to 14th place by the finish. John again ran well in race two before losing time with a spin that left him down in 20th place.
A spin at turn one when the final race got underway dropped John right to the rear of the field but he battled hard to close up to the field ahead and crossed the line in 22nd place.
John ends the season in 22nd place in the Independents’ Trophy.
“Before the last race I bet Paul £50 that I’d manage to stay in front of him, but then I got a bit excited going into Copse and had a spin – which meant he was ahead of me by the team we came out of turn one!” he said. “Overall though it’s been a really good weekend as I had a really good run in the first race and it was a nice way to end the year with another solid performance after Brands Hatch.
“As the season has gone on, I feel I’ve got stronger as I’ve learned about the car and the only real disappointment is that I didn’t manage to break into the top ten. With more time in the car before the season to get used to it, I think I’d have had put points on the board.”
The GoMobileUK.com with Tech-Speed team ends the season eighth in the HiQ Teams’ Championship and sixth in the Independents’ Team Trophy, with team boss Marvin Humphries admitting it had been a challenging season.
“I’d echo what Paul has said; we gave it our best shot in the situation we found ourselves in,” he reflected. “If you look at the second half of the year as we really got to grips with the car, we’ve picked up some strong results and we managed to lead RML home a few times which shows we’ve done a good job.
“For the last few years, people said we punched above our weight with the old Honda Integra, but that was a good car and we were competing on a level playing field, which we haven’t had this season. Even though we’ve had a strong package with the car that won the title last year, it’s made it difficult, and like the rest of the normally-aspirated cars, we’ve had to work harder – both on and off track - for the results we have gained over the course of the year.
“Finally, I’d like to thank GoMobileUK.com for their support this season and we look forward to representing them again in the future.”