Independent Toyota Avensis driver Frank Wrathall and his Dynojet Racing team produced a stunning performance at Knockhill yesterday to secure a brace of podium finishes in the latest rounds of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season.
Following on from his fourth-place finish at Snetterton last time out, which marked the first top 10 result for the new ‘Next Generation Touring Car’ Avensis, Frank and the Lancashire-based team made the trip to Scotland keen once again to challenge at the front of the field.
Having run inside the top 10 in both of the wet free practice sessions on Saturday morning, Frank went on to take his best qualifying result to date to secure third on the grid for the opening race of the weekend.
Despite being hit shortly after the start, Frank ran in a strong fourth place throughout race one and his Toyota proved more than a match for the works Hondas of Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden as the trio diced over second place. Frank took the chequered flag just outside the podium positions to match his Snetterton result.
Race two proved even better for the 24-year-old as he again ran fourth before taking advantage of an error from leader Tom Chilton, who ran wide and allowed the two Hondas and Frank’s Avensis to move ahead. Once more giving chase to Shedden and Neal ahead, Frank crossed the line third for his maiden outright podium finish and the best result yet for a car built to the NGTC rules. The race also saw Frank secure Independent class victory for the second time this season, and also set the fastest lap.
“That is a massive result for us,” he said, “not just because we are on the podium, but because we showed we were as quick as anyone and were close to being able to take a victory.”
From fifth on the grid for race three thanks to the ‘reverse grid’ draw, Frank held his position early on before inheriting fourth when Jason Plato went off on lap four. Frank then slotted into third with a move on race one winner Chilton at Scotsman corner, and successfully brought the Toyota home for his second podium finish of the weekend.
“I really feel like I’m a BTCC driver after this weekend,” said Frank. “We mixed it towards the front of the field in all three sessions on Saturday despite changing weather conditions and then we’ve been right in the mix throughout race day. Taking two podium finishes – and setting a fastest lap – is a fantastic achievement for the team at this stage of the programme and it shows that the result we picked up at Snetterton last month was no fluke.
“We’ve worked so hard this season and have taken large strides with the car; now we are making refinements to the package. The car felt really good all day and I’ll be more than happy if the car I had today is the car I have for the remainder of the season.”
Next stop for Wrathall and the Dynojet Racing team is the Rockingham Motor Speedway in Northamptonshire in a fortnight’s time (18 September).