Frank Wrathall and the Dynojet team were once again in celebrations this weekend after another successful performance in round eight of the BTCC at the Rockingham circuit, claiming two podium wins and a record breaking lap time. Following his performance at Knockhill, Frank topped the tables in Saturdays first free practice session setting a remarkable lap time of which championship leaders Gordon Shedden, Matt Neal and Jason Plato were unable to match. Securing another seventh place start on the grid for race one on Sunday, the orange and black Angel branded Toyota Avensis set a new BTCC lap record on the 1.94 – mile Northamptonshire speedway finishing in a point scoring third place. From seventh Frank made up ground quickly on the opening lap after a tardy getaway on the grid, “It was a bad start – too many revs and too much wheel spin off the line; where I was starting from was a bit damp and I struggled a bit because of that. My plan had been to hold station at the start and to keep it tight. It worked out that I just had to get stuck in and get involved, take my chances…” said the 24 year old who is sponsored by Angel Springs, the UK’s leading supplier of both bottled and mains fed water coolers.
As many in front clashed and fell by the wayside, Wrathall survived the chaos of the opening lap – which included a hefty thump in the rear of the Avensis at the Brook chicane – to hold on to seventh. He picked up sixth on lap three and then demoted Matt Neal’s Honda next time around to secure fifth. It was on this tour that he set the best lap of the race, 1m 24.550s, a tenth inside the circuit record. The Vauxhall of James Nash fell victim to the terrific Toyota into the Deene hairpin on lap six, and then Frank spent 14 laps bottled up behind Gordon Shedden’s third-placed Honda. “Shedden seemed to be struggling more than anyone; that allowed Matt to catch back up and that put pressure on me to get past Gordon. I came off worst in a bit of a tussle with both of them,” commented Frank. Having regained fourth from Neal after a lap on his tail, Wrathall then stormed past Shedden in a brave penultimate lap late-braking manoeuvre into Deene: “I was able to take my chance and get back past Matt, and then I had to be a bit brave on the brakes to get Gordon.” Added Frank: “We’ve done a lot of work getting the Toyota good on the brakes and that I think is where we have the biggest advantage over the cars around us.” From then on third place was a certainty for Wrathall and Dynojet Racing; Jason Plato’s Chevrolet took the win, 10.4s ahead of Wrathall. Wrathall praised the Toyota’s balance: “When the race settled down the car just came to me; it was absolutely mega all the way to the end. I could do pretty much what I wanted with it, it was spot-on.” Race two provided further success, with not only a third victory of the season for Frank in the Independents class but also second place overall, the best placing so far for a ‘Next Generation Touring Car’.
Frank started third and, after a hesitant start, clawed his way back to fourth spot by the end of the opening lap. Third place fell into his clutches on lap four when he dispatched the Chevrolet of Paul O’Neill into Deene and then, two laps later, he pounced on reigning champion Plato to secure second. Wrathall spent the duration of the race harrying leader Shedden for all he was worth, but the Honda man held his narrow advantage to the line, crossing it just 0.38s ahead. “Obviously I wanted to get past Gordon and take the win,” said Frank, “but I had a bit of breathing space and time to weigh up the situation… In the passing places I just wasn’t quite quick enough compared to Gordon. I think he had it under control but it was nice to run him so close. We are getting closer all the time; the Toyota is just absolutely fantastic and I’m having fun.” Frank rounded off his impressive Rockingham weekend with a points-scoring finish – his sixth on the trot – in the ‘reverse grid’ finale, in which he started ninth with his Avensis laden with 36kg of success ballast, and finished ninth. “It was a bit of a struggle because of the extra weight and the effect it had on my straight line speed; it made it hard to pass anyone, so I couldn’t make as much progress as I did in the earlier races. The weight affected the handling of the car as well as the speed; 36 kilos is a big lump and it’s the first time we’ve run that heavy. It was always going to be tough but we got the car to the finish, and in the points. “It’s been an absolutely mega day, better than Knockhill and the best of the year so far because we’ve been quicker here.” Frank ends the weekend a place higher in the overall championship standings – 11th – and ninth among the Independent drivers.