Crowd favourite British Touring Car Championship driver Paul O'Neill has reinforced his status as one of the most popular men in the series, after winning the HiQ Champagne Moment with a record number of votes.
More than 300 fans voted for the Widnes speedster to win the prestigious award for his headline grabbing display in the last round of the BTCC at Snetterton, when he finished on the podium in race one. O'Neill achieved his first top-three result since 2003 when he guided his sunshine.co.uk-sponsored Tech-Speed Honda Integra to third place and backed that up with fifth and sixth places in races two and three. He polled a whopping 63 per cent of fans' votes with Jason Platosecond with 24 per cent and reigning champion Fabrizio Giovanardi third (6 per cent). The 29 year-old, who received a huge roar from fans when stepping up to the podium at Snetterton, said: "It's a fantastic honour to win HiQ's Champagne Moment, and to receive so many votes in the process is just great. "It was a wonderful feeling to be back on the podium and the reception I got was one that will live with me for a long time. HiQ's Champagne Moment will give me a permanent reminder and I am so grateful for all the support received." BTCC fan Tracy Blake, of Frome, Somerset, was picked at random to win a bottle of champagne and she will now win a pair of tickets to the forthcoming round of racing at Knockhill, where she will present Paul with his prize. Tracy will also get the chance to see Paul's Sunshine.co.uk with Tech-Speed Motorsport car on the grid for one of the races as part of the prize, courtesy of a grid walk with HiQ. She said: "What emotion from Paul on the podium. I had tears in my eyes watching him. "He deserves this HiQ Champagne Moment award for a fabulous display at Snetterton. We wish him all the best for the rest of the season." All spectators are invited to log onto HiQ's official website, www.hiqonline.co.uk to vote for their star performer from the next round of racing, at on Sunday August 16. The man that receives the most plaudits from the round of racing will be crowned with HiQ's Champagne Moment award and presented with a magnum of bubbly before the next race at Silverstone on August 30. One lucky fan who has logged his or her details onto the website will be picked at random to present the prize to the driver and complimentary race tickets will also be provided, along with a grid walk of the track before one of the races. HiQ's BTCC marketing manager Geraldine McGovern said: "We are delighted for Paul and his team. He is certainly a worthy winner, and polled more votes than any other driver has. "He deserves all the success in the world and we wish him well for the remainder of the season."