Maiden BTCC pole for Toyota man Wrathall

Dynojet Racing Toyota Avensis driver Frank Wrathall is celebrating his first BTCC pole position after storming this afternoon’s Snetterton qualifying. Frank pipped multiple champion Jason Plato and his MG to top spot by just 0.015s in a thrilling session at the Norfolk track.

And in a double celebration for Toyota drivers, Speedworks Motorsport man Adam Morgan claimed his best-yet grid spot by setting fifth-fastest time.

Frank’s pole is the first for a Toyota driver since 1993 – Julian Bailey and his Carina were the last to achieve the feat, and – hopefully an omen – Bailey went on to win the race, at Knockhill.

Wrathall’s stellar performance was all the sweeter for coming after a troubled morning for him and the team as they struggled to tune the Avensis to the unique demands of the 2.97-mile circuit. Frank’s best time in free practice was 1m 59.327s, only 10th fastest, but he turned up the heat to go top half-way through qualifying with a 1m 58.039s.

Plato responded with a superb 1m 57.610s to knock Wrathall from the top, but Frank was not done yet, posting 1m 57.595s on his final flying lap to wrest pole position from Plato’s grasp. Plato attempted a response but was unable to better him, and after qualifying he shook Wrathall’s hand in pit lane.

“To clinch my first pole position is an incredible feeling,” said Lancashire-based Frank. “It’s not been easy – we’ve had a really difficult day today. We gave it our all in second free practice and were nearly two seconds off the pace. The brains of the organisation did a lot of thinking and we came out with a much improved Toyota with which I could do exactly as I wanted.

“That last lap was as quick as I could go, and luckily Jason couldn’t match it. It’s nice to know that I’m pushing the likes of Jason…

“I don’t know how tomorrow is going to go. It will be a nice feeling lining up on pole and we’ll see what happens. I’ve had some good battles with Jason before; he’s a good driver and he drives with his head. I’m comfortable to be going into the first corner against him.”

Morgan’s performance for the Speedworks Motorsport team was another superb one; the rookie racer’s previous best qualifying performance was 11th. Morgan’s 1m 58.205s best lap was just six-tenths off that of Wrathall and the Lancashire driver was delighted: “It’s great to put behind us everything that happened in the first half of the season and to come out after the summer break and hit the ground running. P5 is absolutely brilliant and I can’t wait for the race tomorrow.

“The car felt great… I pushed too hard on a couple of occasions and ran wide, but I think we will have good race pace tomorrow.”

Adam’s Speedworks team-mate Tony Hughes continued his strong progress to find another three-tenths of a second in qualifying. His best lap was a 2m 01.695s, earning his Hughes Safety Showers Avensis 21st on the grid following Tony’s two-month lay-off from competitive driving.

Tomorrow’s Snetterton rounds of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship are scheduled for noon, 1440 and 1705, and will be screened live in HD on ITV4 and streamed on the web via www.itv.com/btcc

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