Tough luck at Knockhill BTCC for Tech Speed

 The with Tech-Speed Motorsport team endured a trying weekend as the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship made its annual trip to the Knockhill circuit in Scotland.The Leamington Spa-based team went into the weekend looking to build on a second podium finish of the season at Snetterton a matter of weeks earlier, with both Widnes racer Paul O’Neill and Guernsey-based team-mate John George confident about their chances at the picturesque circuit near Dunfermline.After two wet practice sessions, qualifying marked the first opportunity for some dry time on track, but Paul had to settle for 14th on the grid after running wide through SEAT Curve before spinning across the track into the gravel at Leslie’s.With work to do on race day, Paul battled his way up into tenth place in the early laps of race one before the Safety Car was deployed after an incident involving Rob Austin and Tom Onslow-Cole. When racing resumed, Paul came under attack from the Vauxhall of Andrew Jordan and was hung out to dry at the hairpin in a move that allowed a number of other cars to find a way through. Despite his best efforts to fight back into the points, Paul had to settle for 13th place at the finish – just a second behind tenth-placed Aron Smith.The second race would again prove to be frustrating as the cars running with turbo-powered engines proved to be have a distinct advantage over Paul’s normally-aspirated Chevrolet and he took the chequered flag in 14th place, with his hopes of then scoring points in the final race ending on the opening lap when he was forced to retire with a gearbox problem.“I’ve got to admit that I misjudged how strong the turbo cars were going to be this weekend with the ups and downs of the circuit,” he said. “We have a great chassis with the Cruze and are quick through the corners, but the advantage they had on the straights was just too much for us. “Qualifying was tough with the amount of rubbish on the circuit and a small mistake from me which meant I went offline and had a spin, and from there onwards we were on the back foot as it was so tough to try and pass the turbo cars. That would have been the same though if we’d qualified inside the top six – I would have been defending all day long.“This is a weekend to put behind us and focus on the three rounds still to come.”Team-mate John went into the weekend looking to break into the top ten for the first time at a circuit where he has produced a number of impressive performances in the past.Like Paul, John’s weekend didn’t start in the best of fashions when an engine issue forced him out qualifying early on and left him to start the first race of the weekend from the back row of the grid. Gradually making up places as the race wore on, John fought his way up to 17th place by the finish with his target for race two being to make further forward progress.Unfortunately for John, a gearbox issue then forced him to retire from the second race of the weekend and left him towards the rear of the field for race three. In arguably his strongest showing of the meeting, John fought his way as high as 16 while enjoying a heated battle with the VW of Martin Byford and the Ford of Andy Neate. Like Paul however, John’s final outing of the weekend would come to an early end when contact on track left him with a handling problem that forced him to retire for the second time in the day.“I’m disappointed that we’ve not been able to score a point this weekend because I genuinely thought this was my best chance yet, but obviously it wasn’t to be,” he said. “I was on the back-foot a bit after qualifying when there was an issue with the engine but the opening race was good and I managed to work my way up to 17th. Unfortunately, I then had a problem with the gears in race two, which put me out, and then I clashed on track with someone in race three and I think that damaged the suspension, so it was game over again.“It’s a shame because when I was out on track I was able to have a bit of a battle with the guys around me and was lapping well, but luck just wasn’t on my side.”Tech-Speed team boss Marvin Humphries was also frustrated by the results from the weekend after the normally-aspirated cars on the grid were again left struggling against their turbo-powered rivals.“The gap between the turbo and the normally aspirated cars was bigger than we expected it to be here,” he said. “It was a difficult start to the weekend with the rain in practice which affected our programme and we didn’t quite get the set-up right going into qualifying. “What happened there affected race day because it was nearly impossible to get ahead of the turbo cars as they could just drive away on the straights. We know things are going to be difficult through the remainder of the season but as a team, we’ve never given up before and we don’t intend to give up now, so we’ll put Knockhill behind us and come out fighting for the best result possible at Rockingham.”

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