Toyota’s BTCC Independent Avensis drivers Frank Wrathall Jr and Tony Hughes endured mixed fortunes in qualifying for the second round of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season at Donington Park.
Frank and the Dynojet Racing team continued the good progress seen during the day’s two free practice sessions as they continued to find more pace from the Toyota, one of two models on the grid this weekend designed to the BTCC’s Next Generation Touring Car regulations.
Despite the 30 minute session being disrupted by no fewer than three red flags, Frank was able to post a best time of 1m 12.429s – nearly a second quicker than he managed in practice – to secure 20th place on the grid.
Showing the progress made during the weekend to date, that left Frank less than a second away from a place inside the top 10.
“We still have a few little things that are holding us back,” Frank said after the session, “but we’re so close to being in a position where we can get into the middle of the pack, which would be amazing this early.
“We had an issue with the steering and with the brakes but we are making steps forward all the time which is down to the team working hard and making the right calls. The car was the best it has ever been and there is still a lot more to come as we have a wide window of things to work with.”
Tony’s Speedworks Avensis also posted its quickest time of the weekend so far during the session, with a best time of 1m 15.125s despite continued problems with the power steering. However, he will start the opening race of the weekend from 23rd on the grid after a collision with the Vauxhall of James Nash mid-way through the session saw him spin off into the gravel trap at McLeans.
“We made some changes to stiffen up the rear suspension and the car felt a lot better but it exaggerated the problem we have with the steering, which was then costing me time,” he said. “I think I could have got down into the 1m 14s but then I was forced off into the gravel.
“Coming through Schwantz Curve, James tried to go up the inside of me and gave me a whack that put me onto the grass and then I was off into the gravel at McLeans. It’s a disappointing end to the session, but we are going in the right direction.”