Toyota’s three Avensis privateer teams enjoyed a strong qualifying session at Oulton Park ahead of Sunday’s three rounds of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at the Cheshire circuit. All four Avensis racers qualified inside the top 12 after a hard-fought session, with the Toyota men separated by just seven-tenths of a second in a tight field.
Dave Newsham proved the best of the bunch at the wheel of his Speedworks Motorsport-run car, having been quickest Toyota across all three Saturday sessions. Running in the lower reaches of the top 10 after his first run on track, Newsham jumped to fourth after mid-session changes were made to his Toyota to take his best qualifying result of the year. His second row slot is also the best yet in the BTCC for his Stockport-based team.
“I thought we were going to struggle for a while but when I pitted after the first run we made some changes to the dampers,” said Dave. “Even though the Avensis didn’t really feel any different, the time was there and fourth is a great result. The testing we did in the break after Thruxton has helped make the car feel so much better.”
Capping a strong session for the Speedworks crew, team-mate Ollie Jackson fell just shy of matching his best qualifying result of the season, securing 12th. “I’m relatively happy with that, although I made a mistake on my fastest lap which really cost me,” he said. “I certainly could have been three or four tenths quicker, which would have put me inside the top 10. The Toyota is excellent. It’s a big improvement on where we were at the start of the year and we have something good to work with.”
Between the two Speedworks men, Preston pair Frank Wrathall and Adam Morgan each secured a place inside the top 10 to maintain their strong run of qualifying form. Wrathall was the quicker in his Dynojet Racing-run Avensis, taking his second top-six start slot of the season. “That was a good session for us,” said Frank. “Apart from Jason Plato out front, it was really close on the times but it’s a hard circuit to try to get a perfect lap. It’s so easy to make a mistake, but the car feels good and we’re starting race one from a good position.”
Morgan lines up ninth in his Ciceley Racing-run Toyota, giving him a third top-10 qualifying result of the year. “We didn’t use new rubber in free practice two so found a nice chunk of time in qualifying, but some of the others found a bit more,” he said. “The Avensis felt good and the result is OK. We’ll look over the data tonight and see what we can do tomorrow, but there is more to come.”
The first of Sunday’s three Oulton Park sprints is at 1225; all three races are to be screened live on ITV4.