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Season of two halves ends for Tech-Speed

The with Tech-Speed finished their 2011 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship campaign with a difficult weekend at Silverstone, having been on a run of strong form recently.

The Leamington-Spa based team made the short trip to the Northamptonshire circuit looking to build on their recent form at Rockingham and Brands Hatch, while also being aware of the turbocharged cars and their power advantage over the team’s normally-aspirated Chevrolet Cruzes.

Ahead of the first of three races at Silverstone, Widnes-racer Paul O’Neill set the fourteenth fastest time of the session, and he was within seven tenths of the Pole Position time. His first race came to an end after an engine problem forced O’Neill to park up.

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Between races one and two, the Tech-Speed mechanics worked hard to replace the engine and O’Neill was able to take his place at the rear of the field. His second race also saw him fail to see the flag after contact with James Thompson damaged the rear suspension of his Chevrolet Cruze.

The final race of the season saw O’Neill line up right at the back and he brought his car home to a twelfth place finish, having stayed out of all the trouble in the midfield.

In the final Championship standings, O’Neill finished tenth overall with three outright podium finishes and sixth in the Independents’ Trophy.

“It was a difficult weekend but we knew it was going to be,” explained O’Neill. “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 enjoyed one of his best races of the season in the opening race of the weekend, as he worked his way up from twenty third on the grid to finish in fourteenth place.

He wasn’t able to convert his seventh row start into a top ten finish in the second race as he lost time with a spin which dropped him down the order to twentieth.

The final race of the season saw George produce another recovery drive after he spun at Copse on the opening lap and dropped to the rear of the field. He recovered to finish twenty second.

George didn’t score an outright top ten finish in the 2011 season and in the Independents’ Trophy, he finished twenty second overall.

“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.”

Overall, the with Tech-Speed Motorsport outfit finished eighth in the HiQ Teams’ Championship and sixth in the Independents Teams’ Championship, and for team boss Marvin Humphries, the 2011 campaign has been full of challenges.

“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 for their support this season and we look forward to representing them again in the future.”

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