O’Neill and Huggins left their Class 2 rivals crestfallen at the weekend as they picked up maximum points and an extra point for class fastest lap to take them into the overall lead of the championship at Silverstone at the weekend.
O’Neill has put in some astonishing performances since the beginning of last season and this year’s season opener was affirmation that the driver has come of age (40 years old this year, to be precise!) O’Neill surely now belongs to the echelon of the championship’s elite drivers. Read more about this from the Bristol Evening News: http://www.thisisbristol.co.uk/Motor-racing-Bristol-s-Leigh-Woods-driver-O-Neill/story-15837535-detail/story.html
Dan Jones and Kyle Tilley looked ready to set foot on the podium but a broken gearbox nullified their superb efforts.
Tilley, appointed to start the race, was sensible into the first corner, mindful that the race was three hours long and did not fancy being squeezed by two cars closing the door on him from either side. He bided his time and during his lengthy stint, stealthily climbed from P10, having started in 6th.
By the time he was ready to pit, some 1 ½ hours into the race, Tilley handed over to a grateful Dan Jones in 3rd place.
O’Neill was proving himself against the intense pressure that was being put on him by the Beighton / Finnemore Marcos. They remained steadfast in his mirrors but found it impossible to intimidate O’Neill and he drove like a man possessed until the Beighton / Finnemore car did make a passing manoeuvre but pitted straight after to give O’Neill momentary relief. It wasn’t long before the Phillips/Storey 458 Ferrari was bearing down on him but O’Neill was unwilling to relent. Again, O’Neill was putting his defensive driving to good use, the Ferrari challenged and passed but they could not make it stick and O’Neill passed them back again without hesitation. O’Neill later commented that he ‘enjoyed watching the Ferrari get all out of shape after he passed again and watched it spin off and out of view of his mirrors finally’.
Jones, meanwhile, wasn’t to know that his time in the car would be cut short but he did have enough time piece together a fantastic lap before the gearbox gave up. It was just a taster of what Jones would be capable of, driving the car for the first time and having only had 45 minutes to test and qualify in total. Jones was understandably disappointed but upbeat. He loved driving the car and was keen to have another opportunity to capitalise on his potential.
O’Neill had pitted and the lion’s share of the race was being run by Huggins who was able to run untroubled now that the dust had settled on the first half of the race. This allowed Huggins to do what he does best; put in some meteoric laps that would unwittingly hand the duo the extra point they needed for class fastest lap to put them in the lead of the championship.
One more pit stop for Huggins and with enough energy and adrenalin in reserve he carried on to finish the race.
By lap 52, Huggins was up to 3rd overall and was at the point where he set his fastest lap of the race.
Huggins was in prime position when the 2nd placed Ferrari 430 of Tarrant-Willis/Hollings was beset with problems.
On lap 64 Huggins was one lap ahead of the Ferrari and it seemed possible at one point that he might catch the Mosler of Cintrano/Morcillo when they were handed a drive through penalty for a pit stop infringement but the gap was too big to bridge and Huggins followed the Mosler to the chequered flag to take second overall in the race but the championship lead by virtue of the extra point for class fastest lap!
The next round is at Donington Park on Saturday, 21st April.