Speedworks boss says O’Neill the best man for the jobPosted: June 13, 2012
The 32-year-old fan favourite will make his currently one-off return to the BTCC next weekend behind the wheel of a Toyota Avensis, replacing Tony Hughes who will miss the event up North due to other commitments.
“It’s a huge compliment to us that Paul would want to drive our car,” said Speedworks team principal Christian Dick.
“Once you reach the level he has, then you don’t put your reputation on the line for just anybody. For us, it’s confirms that we’re making progress in the right direction in only our second season.”
Dick said that O’Neill was the ideal driver in mind for the drive, and admitted that he hopes that the pair’s relationship will develop furthermore.
“We’ve known for a while that Tony would not be able to compete at Croft, so we asked ourselves who could do the best job for us in his absence?
“I’m good friends with Paul, so his was one of the first names we wrote down. For now it’s a one-off arrangement, but if something develops as a result then of course that would be great.”
O’Neill finished fourth for VX Racing back in the 2003 season and recently scored podiums for Independent team Tech-Speed over the last two years, and said he aims to do the best possible job for the Independent team and hopes to fight for points.
“I’m excited to be returning to the grid, but I’ve not raced competitively since the end of last season so I’ll need to use all of my experience to get up to speed quickly.
“I’m doing it for the right reasons, which is to help Speedworks continue to make an impression in the series.”
Next weekend’s fifth round at Croft will mark O’Neill’s first run in NGTC (Next Generation Touring Car) machinery, and Dick is staying relaxed on his new driver’s chances on his comeback.
“Our expectations are relaxed,” said Dick. “It’s very hard to come into a series for a single meeting, so we have to be realistic about what Paul can achieve.
“If we can get him inside the top 15 during qualifying, then he has a chance of troubling the top 10.”