PAUL O'NEILL TALKS ABOUT THE THREE A's
20th June 2012
Comparing the thrills and spills of the British Touring Car Championship with the everyday school-run might sound pretty far-fetched, but not according to Paul O'Neill, one of the most popular men to have starred in the series.
With Paul currently away from the grid and making an equally impressive noise for the ITV commentary team, he decided to down the microphone for a minute to talk to HiQ about some driving fundamentals.
I was a budding learner driver when my instructor told me to remember the three A's as I make my way on the road.
Be alert, be aware, and watch out for any 'a@$eholes' who'll cause you an accident!
He could have been applying the very same theory to life in the BTCC, where there are more similarities between the grid and the highway than people might think.
There are skills I took from the road to the track and vice-versa. Being able to look ahead and foresee every eventuality is vital in the high octane world of the BTCC. You always look a lot further down the track than you would on a road.
So being aware and alert are hugely important, as is the need to look out for all of my rivals out there, who I would never describe with a word beginning with A!
Any BTCC driver who says they don't study the grid sheets carefully to see what characters are around them after qualifying would be lying!
You know the ones that are likely to push you out of the way and cause a bit of carnage. If they are nowhere near you after qualifying then you're always pleased.
Sometimes it is best to let the complete nutcases stay at the top of the grid, at the beginning of races at least.
It is wise to steer clear of similarly excitable drivers on the roads, of course.
The biggest difference that a lot of people might not fully appreciate however, is the performance of a BTCC car compared to a road car.
Despite the body shell being the same as the car you may have in your garage, the likeness stops there.
The difference between the Ford Focus road car and its BTCC version is like jumping out of the road car and into a Ferrari.
The acceleration, braking and handling is so, so aggressive and a million miles away from the experience highway drivers would be used to.
So yes, many principles of the BTCC world can be transferred to the humble 'A' roads that most people tackle on a daily basis.
It certainly takes time to master the fine art of being a skilled racing driver, that's for sure.
A bit longer than the time it takes to be a skilled motorist, so long as those 3 A's are remembered at all times!