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BTCC favourite O’Neill looks forward to 'mega' Oulton rally

Wednesday, October 04 2017

Former British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) racer and ITV personality Paul O'Neill will be in action at the Neil Howard Stage Rally and Fireworks event at Oulton Park next month (Saturday 4 November).

Widnes-born O'Neill, the half-brother of Spice Girl Mel C, was a fan favourite during his mid-2000s BTCC stint, and is returning for a second attempt at the Cheshire circuit's season closer after an aborted effort at last year's event. O'Neill, who won at the picturesque venue for Vauxhall in the BTCC, failed to finish in 2016 due to a broken gearbox but will be hoping for better luck this time round.

O'Neill's co-driver for the second year running will be Motorsport News and Autosport's Group National Editor Jack Benyon, another Oulton Park local. The duo will be paired up behind the wheel of a Paul Sheard Racing Mazda MX-5 for the Cheshire circuit's season finale, the opening round of the 2017-18 Motorsport News Circuit Rally Championship in association with MSVR. O'Neill's team-mate is Blackburn's Adam Morgan, who currently races a Mercedes-Benz A-Class in the BTCC and will make his event debut.

Aside from the high-profile BTCC contenders, the event will feature a packed entry - spaces sold out in just nine minutes - featuring a wide range of cars from modern-day Subarus and Mitsubishis to retro Ford Escorts.

Unlike the majority of events at Oulton Park, the stage rally will blend sections of the circuit with venue access roads and water splashes to create a series of bespoke layouts. There will even be a chance to see cars blasting around the track in a different direction to usual, and into the dusk. Then, when the dust has quite literally settled on the stages, visitors can turn their attention to the skies as the night is illuminated by a colourful fireworks display. 

O'Neill said: "It was really good last year and the whole event was mega. I'd never done a rally before but unfortunately the gearbox broke. I'm back with Paul Sheard's team this year and it's really nice of him to put me in the car again. I just want to beat Adam Morgan really, it's going to be a bit of a touring car battle between us!

"It's different to what I'm used to but it's a great family event with fireworks and things and my friends came down to watch last year. Overall, I'm here to try and get a class podium this year!"

Motorsport News Circuit Rally Championship Coordinator Darren Spann added: "We are delighted in the continued interest in our Championship.  With the ongoing support of our partners, new partners and the hosting clubs, we are sure this season is set to be the best yet and, what a fantastic entry list we have for round one the Neil Howard Stages at Oulton Park. 

Tickets for the Neil Howard Stage Rally and Fireworks are available in advance for £15 with free entry for under-13s. For more information call 0843 453 9000 or click here.