Top 10 finish at Brands Hatch for Wrathall & ZR Tyres
Frank Wrathall and the Dynojet Racing team signed off their 2013 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season yesterday with another great qualifying performance and a strong finish in one of the three Brands Hatch season-closing races, but as ever this season they were left to ponder what could have been had the fates been kinder.
The team's weekend began in typically promising style, with Frank netting eighth place on the grid for race one. It was the seventh time in the year's 10 events that the Dynojet Toyota had made the qualifying top eight, underlined Frank's excellent qualifying record for the season. Just half a second separated him from pole position man Jason Plato, demonstrating how close and competitive the BTCC field has become over the course of the season. And Frank qualified barely a tenth of a second away from the second row of the grid, having come back well from an off into the gravel trap in a wet first practice session earlier in the day. "I could have been a bit higher up the grid, but it was so close in the times," he said. "It's a shame I was on the back of the group fighting for third on the grid, but I can't complain too much. It wasn't an easy session and I was one of the drivers to have a spin as the circuit was still very greasy if you got off the racing line."
Race 1: did not finish
Raceday dawned gloomy and very wet, and the bad luck that has pursued Frank all season struck again on the opening lap of the first race, when the Dynojet Toyota rounded Paddock Hill Bend to find Colin Turkington's BMW spinning in front. "I took action to avoid hitting him, but someone behind me was caught out and clipped my rear, damaging the wheel," said Frank, who had to limp the car into the pits and retirement. "It was one of those things that have happened to me all too often this season."
Race 2: 10th
Frank collected his seventh top-10 finish of the season after a typically gutsy drive from the very back of the 25-car field. Within two laps the Dynojet Toyota had gained nine places to 16th. Frank broke into the top 10 with a pass on Jake Hill's Audi on the 10th lap, then duelled over ninth spot in the closing laps with Tom Onslow-Cole's Ford, leading him for a lap. "I didn't make a good start," said Frank. "I was still fiddling with the buttons to get the windscreen wipers going and the heated screen sorted when the lights went out, so I was last going on to the Grand Prix loop! I thought I had better do something about it. In the first five laps I was picking up places as quickly as I could; the Toyota was really good, good on the brakes and with loads of grip, and I managed to come through cleanly. My aim was to make the top 10, so I am happy to have achieved that. It was unfortunate that I had some contact on the last lap with Onslow-Cole which cost me a place. But I'm pleased: it was nice to see the chequered flag, nice to go out there and enjoy myself and to pass a lot of people as well."
Race 3: 21st
Frank's poor luck returned with a vengeance for the season finale - the race he won from pole position in 2012. A heavy downpour before the off made the circuit slipperier still and Wrathall found his Toyota's handling more unpredictable. He made up a place early on but then slithered off track a couple of times before pitting for grass and debris to be removed from his radiator. "I had a small problem with the back end on the entry to corners! The got into a ‘tank-slapper' and went off a first time, and then the same thing happened at Paddock Hill Bend. After my pit stop I took it a bit easier, didn't push it going into the corners, and the pace turned out to be quite good. It was typical of my luck this year. another case of what could have been.
"Overall, it's not been a brilliant season for me and the team. We have had some high points, like my front-row start at Donington Park, but the race results have been a struggle to achieve and we have endured a lot of bad luck. As ever, I'd like to thank all the team's sponsors for their great support during the season, and also all the members of the Dynojet team, who have worked so hard for me all year."