11/09/2012 - British Touring Car favourite Paul O'Neill says he
is here to win and not to just make up the numbers as he makes a
wild-card entry into the MINI Challenge at the MSVR GP Weekend on
The likeable scouser has become a firm fans' favourite in the
British Touring Car Championship over the years and now he bids to
challenge the next wave of future BTCC stars in the MINI Challenge
on the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit. Despite racking up numerous
BTCC podium finishes, O'Neill admits he faces a stern challenge,
but like all drivers he is hungry to pick up another win.
He said: "I race cars for a living and I don't do it just for
the fun of it, so of course I want to win. But I won't
underestimate the competition. I won't be hanging back but at the
same time I'm not going to ruin anybody's championship. I love a
bit of racing, I'm clean I don't like to fire people off so I just
hope people don't use me as a target."
Budget constraints have limited the 32-year-old to sporadic
appearances in this year's BTCC but he has remained a force to
be reckoned with, highlighted by a superb fourth behind the wheel
of Tony Hughes' Toyota Avensis at Knockhill last month. Like any
driver who has been on the sidelines, he is excited to be back
racing and joining the ever popular MINI Challenge grid.
The MINI Challenge has become one of the most important one make
tin top championships in the country and O'Neill believes any of
the top six would easily be competitive in the BTCC. The former
works BTCC Vauxhall driver and two-time race winner, who coaches
MINI Challenge racer Craig Freeman, is expecting arguably his
toughest battle of the season to date and a top six finish is the
He said: "I love the cars; they are great to drive so I'm really
looking forward to it. It is a tough field out there. The guys in
the top eight of the championship are as fast as anyone in any
other club championship and I'd like to think that any of the top
six could be able to jump into the BTCC and not disgrace
themselves. I don't expect to be winning but if I can get in the
top six I will be made up, that is how good the competition
Work on next season's plans has already begun for O'Neill with
the objective being to make a return to the BTCC in 2013.
O'Neill's inclusion on the grid for this weekend's three MINI
Challenge races will bring another variable into what will be an
intriguing meeting. Paul will be racing in the Excelr8 number 58
and to follow his progress log on to www.msvracing.co.uk.
Tickets for the MSVR Club Car Championships at Brands
Hatch on 15/16 September are available from £10, with free entry
for children aged 12 and under. For more information call 0843 453
9000 or click here.