Frank Wrathall and the Dynojet Racing team are hoping to continue this weekend at Brands Hatch the run of great results which has brought the squad’s ‘Next Generation Touring Car’ Toyota Avensis to the brink of a race victory in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship. The Kent track’s trio of BTCC races will also see the return to competition of Tony Hughes with the Speedworks Motorsport-prepared Avensis.
Last time out, at Rockingham, the Dynojet team’s perseverance and dedication paid off with a second and a third-place finish, taking Wrathall’s run of consecutive podium finishes to four. For good measure, the team took home a new BTCC lap record for Rockingham.
On Sunday (2 October) they face the challenge of the 2.3-mile Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit, with its challenging mix of sweeping fast bends and daunting undulations. It’s a track which 24-year-old Frank believes should be good for his turbocharged Toyota: “I think a good chunk of it will suit us; the Toyota should come into its own on the fast parts of the Grand Prix loop; possibly the only weak spot might be up the hill from Surtees, where the extra weight we carry could be a disadvantage.
“I went well at Brands Hatch last year in the Ginetta, and it’s one of my favourite circuits, so I am looking forward to the challenge.”
Having racked up two Independents class wins, a second and three thirds in the last five races, paddock talk has inevitably turned to predicting whether Frank and the Toyota can claim the maiden race win for an NGTC car. Wrathall says he has mixed feelings about the pressure this brings: “To have come so close, if we now don’t get a win we will perhaps be disappointed… But in the bigger picture, getting on to the podium in our first BTCC season, finishing second and setting fastest laps is more than we ever imagined possible.
“It’s a strange situation to be in. If you had asked us our realistic target at the beginning of the year, we would have said a top-10 finish by the end of the season. We are way beyond that already…”
Meanwhile, after missing the Knockhill and Rockingham races, Stockport’s Tony Hughes is to return to the fray at Brands with a Toyota which has, says Speedworks boss Christian Dick, been transformed by recent modifications.
“Now that it features some of the latest modifications we have made a big step forward with the Avensis,” he said. “We have had some good testing time with the car, Tony is a lot more comfortable with its handling and hopefully this weekend we can be closer to the action and enjoy the racing.”
It was at Brands Hatch in April, on the Indy circuit layout, that Hughes and his Toyota scored the first-ever race finishes for an NGTC machine.
The Brands Hatch meeting is the penultimate BTCC event of the season, with three races – all carried live on ITV4 – scheduled for Sunday. The championship finale is at Silverstone a fortnight later.