Teething problems beset both of the Toyota Avensis touring car privateers on their debut in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch today, but both Frank Wrathall Jnr and Tony Hughes made great strides forward with their new cars as they battled the established opposition.

The Hughes Motorsport/Speedworks Toyota of Tony Hughes ended the day with two strong finishes from the three Brands Hatch rounds, placing 19th and 21st in respective races. Wrathall’s Dynojet Racing machine, which was fired up for the first time only on Thursday, endured the lion’s share of the problems, chiefly electronics related, and had to retire from the meeting in the first race.

Hughes was stopped in the first race by a loose oil line but there were only small issues for him in races two and three, chiefly concerning the power steering system. He was pleased by his results: “We came here to get some miles under our belts,” said the Stockport driver, “and that’s what we did. We can be reasonably satisfied with our progress, I think.” It was not only the first BTCC outing for his Avensis but also for him and his team, as well as his first races in a front-drive car. 

Though disappointed not to have seen the chequered flag today, 24-year-old Lancastrian Wrathall he was encouraged by many aspects of his BTCC debut. “It’s been really tough weekend for the whole team, but we have taken a lot from it,” he said. “It was a massive achievement for us even to get to Brands Hatch, even more so given that the Toyota looks as professionally turned out as it does. We’ve worked well together as a team and I’ve had a glimpse of the car’s potential, which is enormous. A difficult weekend for everyone, just as we expected.”      

There’s no rest sight for Dynojet Racing and Hughes Motorsport: fault-tracing development work will fill their days between now and their next BTCC outings at Donington Park in a fortnight’s time. 

Today’s BTCC race winners were reigning champion Jason Plato, who triumphed twice for Chevrolet, and Honda’s Matt Neal, who claimed victory in race three.

The Toyota privateers, Frank Wrathall and Tony Hughes, are backing the British Red Cross Japan Tsunami Appeal by carrying logos on their cars.  Donations can be made at www.redcross.org.uk/ japantoyota