Silverstone did not provide the birthday weekend that Frank Wrathall had hoped for, with Frank’s Dynojet Racing-prepared Toyota Avensis completing only one of the day’s three Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship races, despite the car and driver again showing considerable promise in qualifying.
Frank Wrathall and the Dynojet team enjoyed a superbly competitive qualifying at Silverstone, qualifying third fastest of the 24-car field. Frank made useful gains in pace compared with his earlier free practice times, finding sixth-tenths of a second to set a best lap of 59.059s around the tight 1.6-mile National circuit layout at Silverstone.
It was the fifth time this season that Wrathall had qualified his Avensis inside the top five, and Frank, who celebrated his 26th birthday on Thursday, was delighted: “I’m made up with that. I had a few issues under braking in free practice and we completely sorted those; we changed quite a few things on the Toyota and that made it quite a bit better. There’s really only one corner where we still need to improve, and that’s Luffield. I’m just lacking something mid-corner there which is affecting my run down the start/finish straight. Other than that the Avensis is great. Everyone has done a superb job for me.”
Wrathall ended the session just 0.342s off the MG of pole position man Jason Plato; Frank set his best time, down to the thousandth, on two separate laps. Less than a second covered the top 19 cars in the session.
Race 1: did not finish
Frank looked set for a solid top-10 finish in the first race of the day but his hopes were dashed by a 20th-lap misunderstanding at Brooklands corner with Speedworks Motorsport driver Adam Morgan which left Wrathall heading for the pits and an early retirement.
Frank was defending sixth place from Morgan when their cars touched and spun: Wrathall suffered deranged steering while Morgan continued to 16th place, a lap in arrears, after a stop to replace a shattered wheel on his Avensis.
Wrathall had started from third on the grid and had been running fifth in the race before being passed by the BMW of Rob Collard. Frank felt that recent rule changes, which has forced a turn-down of his Toyota’s turbo boost, played a part in his problems. “I was struggling for straightline speed compared with some of the other cars around me. Down the back straight I was a sitting duck. To be fair to Adam he didn’t mean to touch me. He was gaining on me that quick that he would have felt he needed to make a move. Maybe it just came a little too late.”
Race 2: 12th
Frank fought his way to a points-scoring finish, battling against the odds to 12th place despite Silverstone’s long straights once again exposing his Toyota’s relative lack of straightline speed, brought about by recent revisions to the amount of turbocharger boost permitted by championship organisers.
After their first-race coming together, there was further unintentional contact between Wrathall and Morgan at Luffield on the opening lap, as Adam slowed suddenly and Frank was powerless to avoid contact. “Something happened in front of Adam and he stopped so suddenly I had no time to react,” said Frank. Morgan spun to the tail end of the field after the bump. “It was quite a firm whack,” confirmed Adam. “It all slowed up pretty quick in front of me: it was a bit of a concertina effect.”
Wrathall picked up eight places to rise to 10th in the first half of the race, and then profited from leader Jason Plato’s retirement to take up ninth. Thereafter, his pace fell away.
“We were struggling for speed from the start,” said Wrathall. “I just couldn’t live with the speed of the others down the first half of the straights. As a result, I had to try too hard at the start of the race, wasting the best of my grip and the best of my brakes, just to keep up because I was losing so much time down the straights. Then, when the tyres and brakes started to go off, I was just a sitting duck.
“It’s a shame. I can do the times on my own, as we proved in qualifying, but in a race situation I’m getting held up in the corners and left down the straight; I’m unable to do myself justice because of the boost situation. However, it’s the rules and that’s what we have to live with.”
Wrathall lost ninth to the Proton of Dan Welch on lap 20 and, two laps later, was literally powerless to stop the Hondas of Andy Jordan and Jeff Smith from demoting his Toyota to 12th.
Race 3: did not finish
There was mid-race heartbreak yet again for Dynojet Racing driver Frank Wrathall, who crashed out of the finale after contact with another car.
Frank had made a good start from 12th on the grid and, going into the 11th of the 22 laps, was holding ninth when he clashed with Dave Newsham’s Vauxhall. “I tried to go up his inside at Luffield,” said Frank, “and as he moved across he put me on to the kerb and he clipped my front. Then I hit the grass on the outside and it was really wet, so I went straight into the barriers. It’s a disappointing end to what has been a difficult day.”
Despite the disappointments, Frank and the Dynojet team are now looking forward to the final rounds of the season at Brands Hatch in a fortnight.
The Dynojet Racing team is backed by FUCHS Titan Race, Mac Tools, Klenzan, Angel Springs, K&N, Graphix and Autoglym.