The Team sunshine.co.uk with Tech-Speed Motorsport BTCC team are hoping for a strong start to the 2010 season as they take to the track this weekend at Thruxton, Hampshire.
The same weekend last year saw the full time return of popular Widnes driver Paul 'Owy' O'Neill, and in his first race weekend in the teams Honda Integra, finished an impressive fifth in the opening race before suffering the heartache of losing a podium finish with a puncture in the final race of the day.
O'Neill's targets for the weekend are simple: 3 points finishes, with a podium: “We've got to be confident heading to Thruxton after the way it went last year – we just need to hope we don't have a repeat of the tyre issue we suffered in race three!” he said. “I'm sure we'll be qualifying inside the top ten and hopefully we can knock on the door of the top six.
“Three top six finishes on race day has to be the aim with at least one of those being a podium finish. It won't be easy but we can certainly do it.”
The title sponsor, sunshine.co.uk are based in Andover, so this weekend is their local round and the Managing Director of the company, Chris Brown, is looking forward to the weekend: “We're looking forward to seeing what we can do this weekend after Paul's performance last season,” he said. “Tech-Speed has worked hard on the car over the winter and Neil Brown has been working on the engines, so we are looking forward to seeing the impact that those changes have.
“It's nice to start the season with our home race and at a circuit where the car will be strong. We know it will be quick round Thruxton and we can show what we are capable of. We are starting the year at a circuit that really suits the Honda and it would be brilliant if we can pick up some top five finishes. If we can get on the podium, it would be even better!”
The team have a new driver within their ranks this season in popular Cornishman John George. Being based in Guernsey, some 300 miles away, Thruxton is something of a local track for him, and is looking to have his best BTCC weekend to date.
“I'm really looking forward to the weekend,” he said. “It's only a 300 mile trip so it's the closest thing I get to a home race! At Brands Hatch last week I was able to match my previous qualifying times despite running on old tyres during the morning, and that was without doing many laps during the afternoon as I was feeling under the weather.
“That was really good news for me and I'm feeling confident that I can have my best weekend at Thruxton so far. The car suits the circuit and working with Paul has been great so far, he's been really helpful. I'm keen to see what I can do.”
The potent Integra's have been worked on over the winter by the Tech-Speed outfit, and the changes have impressed both O'Neill and George. After the teams strong showing in 2009, at a track which should suit the Integra, Team boss Marvin Humphries is hopeful of having another weekend of running towards the front of the grid: “The boys can be proud of the work they have done on the cars over the winter; they have been busy working to improve them and the new livery has come out looking great,” he said. “The competition is strong but we are taking a positive attitude into the weekend. We ran well at Thruxton last season and hopefully we will again this year. We'll be giving it our best shot.”
The opening rounds of the 2010 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship take place this weekend at Thruxton, the opening weekend of 10 weekends and 30 races.
All 30 races are due to be televised on ITV4 during the season, as well as online.
Qualifying is due to start at 15.00 on Saturday, for 30 minutes. The first race of the season will be due to start at 11.30am on Sunday, with race 2 at 14.10 and the final race of the day due to start at 17.15. All races are scheduled to last for 16 laps.