O’Neill To Make BTCC Return At Croft In Hughes’ Toyota

by Peter Allen
Paul O'Neill and Tony Hughes - Photo Credit: Toyota UK

O'Neill (l) will take over Hughes (r), who has other commitments on race day - Photo Credit: Toyota UK

British Touring Car Championship fan favourite Paul O'Neill will return to the series for the next round at Croft behind the wheel of Tony Hughes' Toyota Avensis.

Hughes is unable to race next weekend at the North Yorkshire circuit, allowing O'Neill to make his first BTCC appearance since the end of 2011, with the Speedworks Motorsport team.

“I spoke to Tony at one of the events earlier in the year and he asked if I'd like to drive the car at Croft as he wasn't able to be there,” Paul explained.

“It's a chance for me to return to the grid, but I don't want to just jump in the car for a weekend of racing, I want to do a good job. Speedworks is a good team, Carlube is going to be playing a big part in the event and I'll be keeping a video diary for ITV, so hopefully we can have a strong weekend.

“There are more unknowns than knowns for me, as I haven't driven the Toyota, I haven't driven an NGTC car and there is the turbo engine, so it will be difficult to start with but I'll get quicker as the weekend goes on. I'll be aiming to start steady and then maybe we could push to get into the top 10 in the second race.

“My target is to run in the midfield but obviously the dream, as ever, is to finish on the podium. Although that is possible, I know it will be massive long shot. I've done a lot of things in this life that have been a long shot and sometimes they have come off, so I'll go there to enjoy myself and see what we come away with.”

Hughes will be present on Saturday to support 32-year-old Widnes-born O'Neill, but a prior commitment will keep him away from the track on Sunday. O’Neill will partner rookie Adam Morgan at Christian Dick's squad.

“When we knew Tony wasn't going to be able to race, we looked around at who was available who had recent experience of the BTCC,” said Dick.

“Paul is the ideal driver and I have a good feeling about his chances for the weekend at Croft. If he can qualify the car inside the top 15 and then bring it home in the top 10, then it will be a good result. I'm also looking forward to seeing him work alongside Adam, as I'm sure that will help to push him on.”

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