Fresh start for Toyota BTCC at Snetterton posted on 02 August 2011
Toyota’s independent racers Frank Wrathall and Tony Hughes are raring to go as the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship blasts back into action this weekend (6/7 August) at Snetterton.
There’s been little rest for the Dynojet Racing and Speedworks Motorsport teams during the long break since the last rounds of the series; they have been hard at work in conjunction with the creator of the BTCC Avensis, GPR Motorsport, preparing, making and testing revisions to their cars aimed at further enhancing the new racer’s promising performances.
Wrathall hopes the developments will provide a big boost at Snetterton and enable him to better the 12th-place race finish he scored last time out, at Croft in June. “I think the changes we have made will result in some big improvements,” said the 24-year-old from Preston, Lancashire. “We have been developing the geometry of the Avensis, putting a lot of effort into trying to find the sweet spots… Hopefully that will pay off and be visible to everyone at the next round.
“We’ve developed a new exhaust system, which we hope will not only improve performance but also ease of working on the car, while retaining the great sound of the Avensis. The new Toyota engine was really strong at Croft, a match for anything out there, so I am hopeful for a good set of results at Snetterton. Hopefully I can do the Avensis justice.”
Speedworks Motorsport boss Christian Dick has been busy too, not just in the workshop but also behind the wheel: both he and GPR Motorsport’s chief development driver Kelvin Burt have tested the Hughes Avensis following extensive revisions to the set-up. “We’ve been busy doing lots of bits – things that we have not had the time to attend to during the early part of the season because of the hectic race schedule,” said Christian.
“We have made good progress and made a big step forward, but the developments have put us into a new ball park with the set-up, and we have not had as much circuit time as we would have liked to evaluate things.” Stockport-based driver Tony Hughes will go behind the wheel of his revised Avensis for the first time this week.
Another variable in the Snetterton mix is the complete revision of the Norfolk circuit since last year: while the track retains some parts of its original configuration – including the spectacular Bombhole corner – it has been improved with a lengthy, twisting infield surrounded by vast spectator banks. Its length has been extended from 1.9 to three miles.
Neither Wrathall nor Hughes has any race experience of the new layout; both men will sample it for the first time at a track day mid-week. Wrathall believes it will suit him: “I have always enjoyed Snetterton – I won there last year in my Ginetta sports car – and I am looking forward to getting to grips with the new layout. From what I have seen, it will be good for the drivers and provide some great action.”
A bumper crowd is expected at Snetterton for rounds 16, 17 and 18 of the BTCC. Practice sessions and qualifying are scheduled for Saturday, with qualifying streamed live on itv.com. Sunday’s trio of races will be screened live in HD quality on ITV4.