Paul O’Neill’s Blog #1 – Over The Moon

Hi and welcome to my first blog of the season for BTCC Crazy.

Going into the pre-season I tested John George’s Chevrolet at both Brands Hatch and Snetterton which he had bought but it was always going to be the one car effort  this season. When I got the call just two days before Media Day to say that the sponsor,, was prepared to help me out then that’s when it came apparent that I’d be on the grid. I was only there to help John [George] out initially but then ended up with a seat myself which was always my plan but I didn’t think it would come off, so it was a bit of a late one.

It’s been hard to get it together, everyones worked hard. have worked flat out to buy the car and the weekend was so emotional for me as I know how hard everyone has worked and how much sleep people haven’t had because of the deal looking like it might not happen and then it did which was good.

Going into the race weekend because of my experience I knew that I probably wouldn’t be at the very sharp end early on in the weekend because I’d not done many new tyre runs. I’d only used two sets of tyres and only done three laps on them each in testing so I knew it would be a bit steady so I worked on just trying to be fast over a race distance in free practice, which went well. I did a new tyre run in the last practice and really, if I’d done my time properly, then I would have finished 6th which would have been a good result. I had a couple of moments in the different sectors so I never really got a good lap together but in the end we qualified 9th which to be honest was a bit of a miserable effort. The same happened as did in free practice. I didn’t get my sector times together and didn’t get the best out of the tyres and overdrove really. It felt that I had let people down with the sponsors and with how hard they’ve worked so I made sure that in the races I picked my way through what I could.

Race one went to plan. I got my way up to seventh with a few things happening infront but the the car wasn’t handling very well but my engineer for race two and I thought right, I’ll stick around 6th and 5th and try and pick up some more points and find out what changes we can make with the car. That was good.

Then the reverse grid came and I thought that if I made a good start I should really be on the back end of the podium and maybe get on the podium. I was most relieved and absolutely over-the-moon when we get that third place. There was a lot more to come out of the car but it would have meant me taking big big risks which would have put me in danger of not finishing on the podium. I could have been fast and the car could have been a bit better but it would have meant me taking big risks so I just stuck to my guns and made sure that I pulled away from Jason and just ran my own race. I was a bit quicker than Jason, which was good, and I was able to pull away from him. I was getting good runs out of the corners so I made sure that where I was stronger I made use of it and it seemed to work. It was a bit touch and go when Shedden got past Plato a bit earlier I think I would have been stuffed but all in all I think my experience shone through but I’m pleased that we’ve got points on the door that I can actually make some use as theres no use sat in the gravel trap for all three races.The podium was everything that the team deserved and I just tried to steer it through.

We’re going to go to Donington with good confidence. The turbo cars will be in a class of their own but that’s not something for me to talk about. My race will be against the other S2000 cars on the grid which are the BMW’s and obviously I’ll be using Jason as a benchmark and I need to be as quick as him and Alex MacDowall. I’ll just be concentrating on what they’re [S2000] doing. I’m not too bothered with what the turbo’s are doing as they’ll just come into their own when they do and I’ll just try to beat them when I can to try and get Independent wins and points.

I’m absolutely made up with what I’ve got and I think we can take our confidence and good fortune to Donington and go from there really and give it our best shot.

Jason did a mega job at Brands Hatch and I’ve got arms and legs and the same body temperature as him so I don’t see why I can’t do it myself.

Thanks for reading,

Owy #29