Hard work pays off for ZR sponsored Wrathall at Snetterton
Despite some setbacks, Frank Wrathall and the Dynojet Racing team showed plenty of determination to succeed yesterday at Snetterton in the latest rounds of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship. Handling difficulties throughout the weekend hampered Frank's hopes of scoring a podium finish in Norfolk as he did in 2012, but what his car lacked in pace was more than made up for by the driver's strength of mind and the ingenuity of the squad. Wrathall finished two of the three races in the top 11.
Given Frank's pole position pace at Snetterton in 2012, he and the team were more than disappointed to qualify only 17th out of the 27 runners. Had he been able to match his time from last year, Wrathall would have lined up seventh on the grid. The problems centred on the handling balance of the Dynojet Toyota. Said Frank: "We're struggling, simple as. We're almost a second away from our pace here last year and the car is just not behaving at all. We've changed a lot of settings today and it just feels the same. It's a strange one, and we are a bit lost."
Race 1: did not finish
Frank held on to his 17th place over the course of the opening laps, but was forced to pull off and out of the race on lap three when the engine cut out on his Avensis. "I had a couple of misfires and then it just cut out on me; it was a shame. The Toyota maybe felt a little bit better than yesterday after the changes we made, but we still have some issues to iron out in terms of the handling."
Race 2: 10th
Some brilliant detective work by the Dynojet crew traced Frank's race-one problem to the ‘fly-by-wire' throttle system and, with minutes to spare, Wrathall was able to join the grid for race two at the very tail end of the grid. "Literally minutes before the race I still wasn't sure we'd be going out; the guys did a brilliant job to fix it," said Frank.
With the bit firmly between his teeth, Frank gained seven places on the opening lap and seven more by mid-distance. Going into the final lap he held 11th, gaining a further position when the cars of Tom Onslow-Cole and Rob Austin collided ahead of him, Austin spinning off.
"I got a good start had a really clean race," said Frank. "I just used my ahead and it all fell into place. I passed a few and a few fell by the wayside, and I stayed out of mischief. I knew something was going to happen between Onslow-Cole and Austin ahead of me - I was hoping that both of them were going to come off but only one of them did, but I'll take that. It was good, but we are still struggling a little bit with the handling."
Race 3: 11th
The finale was a rough and tumble affair and Frank did well to bring the Dynojet Toyota home in one piece - that he collected 11th place also and some useful points was a bonus. "It was a continuation of the struggles that we've been having. I just didn't have enough grip and for the first couple of laps I got piled into from every direction, so the car's a bit of a mess now. I lost quite a lot of time at the start and then had to avoid quite a few other people having accidents, so it was a bit disappointing. At least I got a finish, though."
Dynojet Racing now sets it sights on turning around its fortunes at the Knockhill circuit near Dunfermline on 25 August: "Two finishes and some points today is a step in the right direction," said Frank, "but we definitely need to work on and to improve the car before the next rounds. Last year at Knockhill we drew a blank because of an engine problem - hopefully we can make up for that with a decent showing this time."