BTCC Podium for Frank Wrathall
BTCC Podium for Frank Wrathall
3rd May, 2012 to 3rd Dec, 2012
FIFTH, FOURTH, AND THIRD: FRANK ON THE PODIUM AT THRUXTON
Dynojet Racing’s Frank Wrathall scored his maiden podium finish of the BTCC season this afternoon at Thruxton, his third place - and Independents Trophy win - in the final race capping a superbly successful day for the Toyota Avensis driver.
Frank had earlier claimed personal-best results for his 2012 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season, finishing fifth in race one and going one better to take fourth in race two. But the Lancashire man saved the best for last, holding at bay double BTCC title winner Jason Plato for the last six laps of the Thruxton finale. Qualifying: 3rd (of 22) Frank matched his best BTCC qualifying result and was one of the stars of a drying session at the quickest circuit on the calendar, securing a slot on the second row of the grid for the opening race with third fastest time behind Andrew Jordan and double champion Jason Plato.
Frank was on the pace throughout the session, starting out on a combination of wet and slick tyres before pitting for dry tyres all round. Setting a time of 1m 18.002s, Frank was briefly knocked back to fourth but when Gordon Shedden was stripped of his times it moved the orange Avensis back into third spot.
“That session was right up there,” said Wrathall. “I’ve equalled my best in the BTCC despite the tricky conditions and the unknowns that there were going into it. The team did a brilliant job with the car and it felt absolutely mega; it gave me loads of confidence to push. I did lose out a bit with traffic towards the end of the session as I misjudged the gap to the cars in front and then caught them up, but I don’t know if I would have been able to get ahead of Jason. I can’t complain.”
Race 1: 5th (of 16 finishers) A stirring drive by Frank in appallingly wet conditions netted the brave Dynojet Racing man fifth place - his best result of the BTCC season so far - while other fancied runners fell by the wayside.
Frank completed the opening lap in third after a cautious start while pole position man Andrew Jordan crashed into the barriers at turn one and Jason Plato spun. On laps four and five Frank lost places to Rob Collard and a recovering Plato, dropping to fifth.
“Everything was difficult about that race,” said Frank. “Visibility was terrible: even one car ahead created so much spray that you could see nothing. It’s just nice to come home in one piece.”
Wrathall was denied a chance to repass Collard because the race was halted early for crash debris to be cleared. “I’m not too disappointed,” said Frank. “Collard was struggling ahead of me and I think I would have got the better of him, but at the same time Gordon Shedden was coming up behind and might have passed me, so I think fifth is where we would have ended up. “We struggled yesterday in the wet, so I am made up to finish fifth; it shows how much progress we have made with the wet set-up.”
Race 2: 4th (of 19 finishers) Wrathall went one better in race two, bringing home his Dynojet Racing Toyota Avensis a fighting fourth to set another personal best for the BTCC season so far. Still streaming wet, the Hampshire circuit continued to present traction problems for the whole field and the race was started behind the Safety Car.
Wrathall lost a place to Gordon Shedden on the opening lap but bounced back to fifth past Rob Collard on lap six, setting the scene for a multi-lap battle with Dave Newsham. Three laps from the end Frank was able to overhaul the Vauxhall driver for fourth and then closed on to the tail of Mat Jackson’s Ford, trying hard on the final lap to claim a podium slot. “It took a couple of laps for the Toyota to come on,” said Frank, “but once it did it was absolutely flying. I loved every minute of that race. It’s just a shame I didn’t have a little bit longer to mount a proper attack on Mat. I got alongside him through Church but he had a little bit more go than me up the hill out of the corner, pulled clear a little and then defended really well into the chicane. I am made up with fourth and looking forward to the next race.”
Race 3: 3rd (of 18 finishers) Frank rewarded his growing army of fans with a virtuoso third-race display, the Dynojet Racing Toyota driver battling through the spray to claim third and victory in the Independents class. Frank made a brilliant start from sixth on the grid and his Avensis took up fourth place in the early stages; he then pressured Honda driver Tony Gilham into an error on lap six to move into third. “Then I could see the headlights coming up behind me, and saw from the pit boards that it was Jason Plato,” said Frank.
“Obviously you then have that on your mind; he’s quick, first of all, and he doesn’t mess about when making manoeuvres. I was really struggling at the end of the race with the tyres and he was edging closer to me. But there was no way he was coming past: I made sure that he wasn’t coming through.” Added Frank: “I’m just absolutely delighted for everyone, the team and all the sponsors and especially my dad. We’ve come through a tough time and to end up on the podium is fantastic.”
Wrathall’s haul of points from the Thruxton weekend promote him to 10th overall in the drivers championship and seventh among the Independents Trophy contenders. Dynojet Racing is now seventh in the teams division.
The Dynojet Racing team is backed by FUCHS Titan Race, Mac Tools, Klenzan, Angel Springs, K&N, Graphix and Autoglym.
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