HARD WORK PAYS OFF FOR WRATHALL AT SNETTERTON04 August 2013Despite 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.”
MORGAN REVS UP FOR HOME-TRACK OUTING17 June 2013The BTCC’s revelation of 2013, Ciceley Racing’s Adam Morgan, is looking for yet more top-six finishes this weekend at his home circuit of Oulton Park.
So far this season 24-year-old Adam and his Toyota Avensis have finished in the top 10 eight times from nine starts, and have made the top six on five occasions. It’s been a brilliant start to the season for the Lancashire driver, who holds seventh place overall in the drivers championship. Both he and Ciceley Racing are ranked second in the Independents Trophy.
There is no reason why he can’t bag more points at Oulton, says Adam: “We made some good progress in testing last week at Donington Park, concentrating on general set-up and checking all the systems were OK. I feel we have a reasonably good set-up for Oulton now; the Toyota felt really good and we’ve come a long way since last year, so hopefully we will be right up there.
“There were a number of teams testing at the same time as us at Donington, including Speedworks, eBay, Honda and Motorbase, and I think that we were among the quickest. However, we have to remember that it’s only a test day and you never really know what the others are doing.
“I’m really looking forward to Oulton. It’s my home track and you can guarantee that all my family friends and home supporters will be out in force. The irony is that although I love the circuit I’ve not had brilliant luck there in the past. Hopefully we can turn that around this year.”
Adam has enjoyed a highlight at each of the three BTCC meetings held so far: at Brands Hatch at Easter he recorded his first win the Independents division thanks to a fourth-place finish in the final race of the day; at Donington Park he qualified an excellent sixth and raced to a hat-trick of top-five race finishes; and at Thruxton he led the final race for a spell in convincing style. Morgan is one of only six drivers in the BTCC field to have scored in every race.
Sunday’s Oulton Park race action gets underway, live on ITV4, from 1225. Saturday afternoon’s qualifying session will be streamed on itv.com/btcc at 1515.
ANOTHER TOP 10 FINISH FOR DYNOJET’S WRATHALL10 June 2013Frank Wrathall and the Dynojet Racing team claimed a hat-trick of race finishes yesterday, two of them in the points, but were left to ponder what might have been had events panned out differently. For although Frank’s Toyota Avensis was among the quickest cars in the field, a first-race incident left Wrathall battling a day-long disadvantage.
Saturday saw an encouraging start to the team’s home-circuit campaign, Frank claiming his second top-six grid slot of the season. “That was a good session for us,” said Frank. “Apart from Jason Plato out front, it was really close on the times but it’s a hard circuit to try to get a perfect lap. It’s so easy to make a mistake, but the car feels good and we’re starting race one from a good position.”
Race 1: 23rd
Wrathall made a great start but took a hit from another car in the first-lap melee which knocked his Avensis about sufficiently to demand a pit stop for investigation; Frank rejoined a lap down and finished 23rd. “I was hit by Turkington at the hairpin and it felt like the car was ‘crabbing’ on the next straight. I brought it into the pits and we checked it over but it was fine, so we aren’t sure what the problem was. It’s a shame, as the pace was strong and we could have had a top-six finish.”
Race 2: 12th
Narrow and twisty Oulton Park is no place to start a race from the back of the grid, but that’s what Wrathall had to do and he more than rose to the challenge, battling through to 12th at the chequered flag.
“If you start 23rd around here there’s only so much you can do - it’s so hard to pass because it’s such a narrow circuit. So I think to make it up to 12th was a pretty good effort. The Toyota was pretty good; starting where we did it gave us the opportunity to try a few different things with the set up and make a bit of a gamble. It worked, and if we’d have started a bit higher up the grid we would maybe have been able to do quite well.”
Race 3: 9th
Again Wrathall and his Toyota showed great pace, and Frank was able to secure his fourth top-10 finish of the season. “It was a tough race to end the weekend and whenever there was any kind of contact in the race, I seemed to lose out. The Toyota felt really good and was strong, but we were up against it because of where we started and because of who we were racing against. We set the fourth fastest lap of the race, which showed what we were capable of, and I think that if we’d been able to hook a clear lap together, ours would have been the fastest car on track.
“We were really on the back foot all day as a result of what happened in the first race. It is so difficult at Oulton Park to make up places when you are at the back of the field. It’s frustrating that we’ve had a good car and haven’t been able to make the most of it.”
Bird Claims Second Successive SOL Rally Barbados Victory03 June 2013
After last year's inaugural victory after many years of trying which included finishing runner-up twice and another two times in third place, Cumbrian rally driver Paul Bird successfully defended his title in emphatic style on this weekend's SOL Rally Barbados with another stunning drive on the Caribbean island.
Driving the MinxFlix.com, Fuchs Titan, Rapid Solicitors and Kick Energy-backed, Pirelli-shod FBP Ford Focus WRC08 along with Welsh co-driver Aled Davies, Bird from Langwathby followed up his second place on the previous weekend's Scotiabank King of the Hill which was the final shakedown before the Caribbean's biggest annual international motorsport event.
With mixed weather conditions prevalent going into SOL Rally Barbados, Bird set out his intentions early with fastest time on the opening stage on Saturday to take the lead and was never headed throughout the event as he gradually built and maintained a lead ahead of the quality international field.
Fastest on eight and second fastest on the remaining three stages, the 2005 MSA ANCRO National Rally champion held a 28.5 second lead after the first day in the Dom Buckley Motorsport-prepared car.
Sunday's remaining ten stages saw Bird immediately into his groove and courtesy of fastest time on the day's opening test, he stretched the lead to over 30 seconds and from there, managed the lead perfectly taking three more fastest times during the latter stages and arriving at the finish with a winning margin of 29.3 seconds to claim his second successive victory on his favourite event.
The latest success added to the Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki British Superbike and PBM MotoGP team boss's recent victories on the Manx National Rally and North West Stages to continue his good form this year.
Paul Bird: "After winning the event last year, I wanted a taste of that again so I was determined to repeat my victory. We had a good run and had no major issues with the car and for once, I didn't make too many mistakes and it all came together perfectly. This is a fantastic event and I'm privileged to win it but you don't come all this way to finish second. Thanks to Aled for another great job and to the team also for their efforts with the car and also the organisers and the thousands of fans, I've never seen so many people out watching. It's a shame my old mate Steve Perez had problems as I would have liked to have beaten him fair and square but given he's had an expensive time with his car problems this weekend, I'll try to go easy on him with the bar bill tonight!"
Bird Takes Dramatic Third Manx Rally Victory13 May 2013
Langwathby driver Paul Bird racked up his third victory on the Manx National Rally with a scintillating performance in difficult conditions to take the win by just 3.4 seconds after 20 dramatic stages around the Isle of Man lanes.
Driving the MinxFlix.com, Fuchs Titan, Rapid Solicitors and Kick Energy-backed, Pirelli-shod FBP Ford Focus WRC07, Bird followed up his victories in 2009 and 2010 on The Island and in doing so, took maximum points on the REIS Get Connected MSA Asphalt Rally Championship.
But the Cumbrian MotoGP and British Superbike team owner's rally wasn't without problems on the Manx Auto Club Ltd's classic 120-stage mile two-day event which threatened to deny him victory right to the very finish.
After finishing runner-up to Melvyn Evans and Aled Davies on the event last year, Bird seconded Davies into the co-driver's seat, as part of their bid for the 2013 Championship, and during Friday evening's early stages in the mixed conditions, the pair held second place behind the Subaru of Evans before hitting the front on SS6 with quickest time on Glen Roy 2. Bird held on for the next couple of stages in darkness to hold a slender one second lead at the overnight halt at the TT Grandstand.
Into Saturday's stages and despite the odd brush with the Manx wildlife and scenery, Bird increased his lead and after the first loop of four stages, held an 11 second advantage over Evans despite not setting fastest time on any of the tests. He put that right by going quickest on the next stage in Druidale and was on the pace in The Curraghs but it was on the very next stage that disaster struck.
Only a few hundred metres into the 6.24-mile Tholt-y-will stage, the left rear tyre punctured leaving the 2005 ANCRO National Rally Champion to struggle through, eventually dropping 50 seconds and shedding copious amounts of bodywork as the flailing remnants of the tyre destroyed the rear of the Dom Buckley Motorsport-prepared car.
Despite dropping to third place overall, Bird responded in typical fashion by setting fastest time on the next stage to move up to second place and courtesy of another fastest time on SS17, took the lead back which he wasn't to relinquish over the remaining three stages.
A ten second advantage going into the penultimate test in Braaid 2 saw Bird and Welsh rival Jason Pritchard bear the bogey meaning all was to play for on the final test on the 11.8-mile test through The Baldwins and once again, there was high drama on the sting in the tail.
As Pritchard scorched through to set fastest time, Bird noticed that the engine temperature on the Focus was giving cause for concern so was faced with the dilemma of easing off sufficiently to ensure the car made it to the finish, it was an anxious wait but news filtered through that he had taken victory by a mere 3.4 seconds much to his relief!
Paul Bird: "That's the hardest I've ever had to drive around the Isle of Man and don't want to do that in a hurry again! We were unlucky to get the puncture which dropped us a shed load of time otherwise we would have had a lot more in hand but when the oil light came on coming down Injebreck, I thought we'd blown it. Jason did really well to push us so hard, fair play to him and I'm sad that Melvyn retired otherwise it would have been a great battle as he's the undoubted master round here. It's fair to say my heart was in my mouth a few times but I'm ecstatic to have taken my third Manx Rally victory and thanks to Aled and the team, great job boys!"
The result sees Bird provisionally move into the joint lead of the REIS Get Connected MSA Asphalt Rally Championship but will miss the next round which clashes with his annual sortie to SOL Rally Barbados later this month where he is looking to defend the title he won last year.
For more information please visit www.manxautosport.org and www.pbmuk.net.
Results (after SS20)
1 Paul Bird/Aled Davies - Ford Focus WRC 07 - 1:44:26.6
2 Jason Pritchard/Phil Clarke - Ford Focus WRC 05 - 1:44:30.0
3 Damian Cole/Darren Garrod, Ford Focus WRC 05, 1:47:50.7
4 Nigel Cannell/Michaela Cannell - Mitsubishi Evo 9 - 1:49:02.5
5 Stephen Simpson/Patrick Walsh - Subaru Impreza WRC - 1:49:39.3
6 Graham Coffey/David Gamblin - Subaru Impreza S12B WRC - 1:50:39.6
7 Andrew Leece/Graham Fargher - Mitsubishi Evo 6 - 1:51:23.9
8 John Indri/Pete Johnson - Darrian T90 GTR - 1:52:24.6
9 David Hardie/John McCulloch - Subaru Impreza - 1:52:42.2
10 John Stone Lee Carter - Skoda Fabia WRC - 1:52:49.1
A SINGLE POINT GAINED AT FRUSTRATING THRUXTON05 May 2013Frank Wrathall and the Dynojet Racing team are pinning their hopes for a turnaround in their luck on next month’s home events at Oulton Park following another disappointing day at the races at Thruxton today. Despite a promising showing in qualifying, in which Frank’s Toyota Avensis secured a fourth-row grid slot, the Lancashire racer came away from the fastest circuit on the BTCC calendar with only a single point to show for his trouble.
“It’s been a weekend to forget,” said Frank. “I can’t believe how unlucky we have been this year, and I can only hope that things will turn around for us at Oulton Park.”
After his Donington Park front-row grid start, Frank had high hopes of another good qualifying performance at the fastest circuit on the BTCC calendar. Third-best time in the damp first free practice session underlined the potential of the Dynojet Toyota, but a broken driveshaft in the second practice proved a setback. Frank was able to limp the car back to the pits, enabling the Dynojet Racing mechanics to set to work replacing it in time to get Frank back on track before the session’s end. “It’s disappointing but better for it to fail in free practice than in qualifying,” said Frank.
Wrathall bounced back to set eighth-best time in qualifying, emerging from the session as the quickest of the four BTCC Toyotas. “Thruxton is so different to any other circuit and with last year being so wet, we didn’t really have a good dry set-up that we could put on the car for qualifying this time around. I really had to squeeze that lap out and while I’m not disappointed with the result, I’m not totally happy with the handling of the car. We’ll work on that for race day.”
Race 1: 15th
Frank started eighth and held eighth in the opening stages but found himself powerless to keep his rivals behind him as the race wore on. By mid-distance Frank had slipped back to 15th, and he had to battle hard for the rest of the race to hang on to that position, and with it the final championship point on offer.
“For whatever reason, our car just wasn’t working on new tyres and we need to try to get to the bottom of why,” said Frank. “I had no grip, and it was inevitable I was going to slip back. After qualifying we changed the Toyota in every way we could in the direction that we wanted to go but nothing seems to have had an effect.”
Race 2: 19th
His second outing of the day was another challenge for Frank, with a trip across the grass while avoiding the spinning Ford of Aron Smith at Church leaving the radiator of his Avensis clogged with grass. Forced to pit to have the grass removed to avoid overheating the engine, Frank rejoined at the rear of the field and recovered to 19th spot by the time the chequered flag flew.
“I thought I was going to collect Smith,” he admitted. “I have no idea how I managed to avoid him but the radiator was full of grass and I had no option but to pit. It was a difficult race and we’re still struggling with the car. We made some changes but I was still suffering with understeer and we have to try work out the cause of our problems.”
Race 3: did not finish
Alas mechanical problems - to be investigated but initially diagnosed as a fuel pump problem - put paid to Frank’s final-race hopes even before the start of the race. “It came up with a couple of warnings early on the warm-up lap and then just stopped altogether. If I could have got the car back to the pits I would have. It’s a shame because the Toyota felt significantly different this time and I was quite pleased with it.”
The Oulton Park rounds of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship take place on 9 June.
High-speed Thruxton lies in wait for Dynojet Racing30 Apr 2013A leap into the unknown - that’s what faces Frank Wrathall and the Dynojet Racing team this weekend when they tackle Thruxton, the fastest circuit on the calendar and venue for the third meeting of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season.
The reason for the uncertainty for the Lancashire-based Toyota Avensis racer is that he - in common with all his rivals - has no real idea how his car will perform on dry-weather tyres. Last year Thruxton was swamped by rain for much of the BTCC weekend and, though Wrathall made the best of the conditions, he didn’t learn a lot about the Hampshire circuit.
Said Frank: “I’m not sure what to expect from Thruxton, to be honest. It will be a bit of an unknown for most people because the only time it was dry there last year was right at the end of qualifying. I think there’s a lot to learn about the tyres; it will be interesting, but at least most people are in the same boat.”
During the all-too-brief dry interlude at Thruxton last year Frank was on track at the right time and on the right sort of Dunlop tyre; he qualified his Dynojet Toyota third on the grid. In the races he found the Avensis perfectly matched to the wet conditions, recording fifth place in the opening race of the day, fourth place in race two and then a brilliant third, holding off Jason Plato, in the finale.
Last time out, at Donington, Frank endured a trying weekend of car problems, including a turbo boost issue which blunted his pace. He is hoping for better at Thruxton: “I think we’ve got to the bottom of our engine problems; we will be giving it a run on the dyno before the meeting, and hopefully it will back to full health. We had good pace at Thruxton last year and the Toyota has felt absolutely mega so far this season. We just need everything to come together, a bit of luck on our side, and I am sure the results will flow.”
Frank holds 11th place overall in the BTCC drivers championship and is seventh in the Independents Trophy. Dynojet Racing is eighth among the teams and ninth in the Independent Teams Trophy.
The Dynojet Racing team is backed by Mac Tools, FUCHS Titan Race, Toyota Material Handling, Klenzan, Dyno Drive, Angel Springs, K&N and Graphix.
Racefile: Thruxton, rounds 7, 8 & 9
Saturday 4 May: practice 1000 & 1240, qualifying 1525
Sunday 5 May: pit lane walkabout 0945; race 1 1200, race 2 1430, race 3 1715
Bird Overcomes Problems To Claim Second On Hamsterley28 Apr 2013Langwathby driver Paul Bird continued his excellent start to the 2013 season with another battling performance which saw him secure the runner-up place on today's SG Petch Tour of Hamsterley Rally.
Driving the MinxFlix.com, Fuchs Titan, Rapid Solicitors and Kick Energy-backed, Pirelli-shod FBP Ford Focus WRC07, Bird followed up his victory on the North West Stages Rally in February and podium placings on both the Malcolm Wilson Rally and Tour of Epynt last month with second place on his debut on the Stockton & DMC-organised event.
But the Cumbrian MotoGP and British Superbike team owner's day was fraught with problems which prevented him challenging for the victory on the popular County Durham event. A stall on the opening stage meant he dropped ten seconds to his rivals and although he recovered on the next two stages, he was 20 seconds behind local ace Stephen Petch at the first service halt.
However, the planned push through the second loop of stages was thwarted with a hydraulic failure on the start line of SS4 meaning the former ANCRO National Champion had to struggle through the three stages with gearbox and clutch problems dropping over half a minute to effectively end his bid.
Fantastic work by the Dom Buckley IRS Team at the second service halt meant they got Bird and Welsh co-driver Carl Williamson away with seconds to spare and they were rewarded with a superb performance in the final 14-mile stage of the event whereby Bird clawed back an amazing 22 seconds but it wasn't enough and Petch won the event for a second time, this time by 24 seconds.
Paul Bird: "That was hard work today! It's very rare that it happens but we seemed to have niggling problems from the start but the main issue was when I lost the launch control and paddle shift right at the start of the third stage. That really hurt us but we tried hard on the last one which was our only clean run and we were quickest by some margin. That's not taking anything away from Stephen; he drove very well and congratulations to him and John. Also, a massive thanks to the service crew who worked a miracle to get the car sorted and got us out in the nick of time so overall, I'm happy with second place all things considered."
For more information please visit www.tourofhamsterley.co.uk and www.pbmuk.net.
Results (after SS7)
1 Stephen Petch/John Richardson - Ford Focus WRC - 45m: 23s
2 Paul Bird/Carl Williamson - Ford Focus WRC - 45:47
3 Peter Stephenson/Ian Windress - Ford Focus WRC - 47:31
4 Marty McCormack/Phil Clarke - Ford Escort Mk 2 - 48:11
5 Steve Petch/Craig Thorley - Mitsubishi Evo 9 - 48:32
6 Ian Joel/Graeme Wood - Ford Escort Cosworth - 48:49
7 Steve Bannister/Louise Sutherland - Ford Escort Mk 2 - 48:56
8 Tim Pearcey/Neil Shanks - Ford Escort RS 1800 - 49:11
9 Will Onions/Dave Williams - Ford Escort RS - 49:14
10 Ryan Barrett/Barry Ferris - Ford Escort - 49:32
DRAMAS FOR DYNOJET TEAM AT DONINGTON21 Apr 2013Frank Wrathall and the Dynojet Racing team were left to ponder what could have been today after a series of disappointments in the latest rounds of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Donington Park. Frank qualified a promising second on the grid, but engine management gremlins blunted his race pace. Wrathall collected only one points-scoring finish from the day’s three races.
Dynojet Racing man Wrathall ran at the sharp end of the times throughout the qualifying session as he looked to secure the second BTCC pole of his career. For a long spell the #11 Avensis was on top of the pile but defending champion Gordon Shedden (Honda) was able to better Frank’s time by just 0.049secs, demoting Frank to second on the grid.
“Pole would have been nice, but it’s not the end of the world that Gordon beat me to it,” he said. “I was right on the limit for that lap and had to really push. I managed to pull it out of the bag and then when I tried to go quicker again, I overdrove a bit and it wasn’t worth making a mistake.” Frank’s qualifying result was all the more impressive given the time he lost during free practice earlier in the day with engine electronics issues.
Race 1: 7th
Unfortunately the repercussions of those electronics issues made themselves apparent from the outset of the first of the day’s races, with Frank slipping to fourth behind Shedden, Andrew Jordan and Matt Neal on the opening lap, and then losing a further place to Jason Plato on lap two.
Wrathall and his fellow Toyota driver Adam Morgan staged a battle royal over fifth place, together with the MG of Sam Tordoff, for much of the race. Frank, troubled by a lack of turbo boost in the lower gears, was literally powerless to prevent his rivals getting in front. “Because of the problems we had in practice we were running the engine settings a bit on the ‘safe’ side and we weren’t using our boost as we should. As a result our engine was down on performance, which showed in that race. The Toyota was fantastic: when I was behind someone I could see I had an advantage on them, but as soon as I was on the straight they were pulling away from me: I was a sitting duck. It’s disappointing when the car is handling really well. But seventh is a solid result, and I am not too disappointed.”
Races 2 & 3: Did not finish
Running on the soft-compound Dunlop tyre, Frank moved up a place on the opening lap of race two to take up sixth spot behind fellow Toyota man Morgan and - following an early Safety Car period - looked well placed to make further progress, with his Avensis getting quicker with each lap. However, his hopes of pushing forward toward the podium were ended on the eighth lap when his throttle linkage broke, forcing him into retirement.
“The car was really good and it would have been interesting to see how the soft tyres held up, as we were getting quicker and the guys in front were losing time,” said Frank. “However, when the throttle linkage broke, the throttle was stuck wide open so I had to get hard on the brakes as I went down to the Old Hairpin to bring the car to a stop. It’s very disappointing as we were in good shape.”
Unfortunately that retirement left Wrathall 22nd on the grid for the finale - right in the danger zone, as he was to find on the opening lap, when his car was struck unintentionally from behind by another Toyota, the Speedworks car of Ollie Jackson.
“Will Bratt outbraked himself looking to go up the inside of Lea Wood; they were side by side in front of me across the chicane and pretty slow, so I had to enter the chicane slowly behind them to avoid a collision, and Ollie perhaps misread the situation and piled into the back of me, which broke the rear suspension. That’s the sort of thing that happens when you start a BTCC race from the back.
“Today’s been such a wasted opportunity really. The Toyota has felt so good - it’s been absolutely on rails, the best handling we’ve had, and if we hadn’t had the problem with the turbo the potential was there for top three or better. It’s a lot easier to take days like this on the chin when you are fighting a lot of issues with the car, or if I’m not driving well, but I feel like today everything was right apart from the engine holding us back and it’s been the difference between a great day and a disaster. But we’ll bounce back.”
Frank’s chance to do just that comes in a fortnight at the super-fast Thruxton circuit in Hampshire, where he claimed a podium finish last year.
Frank ready for Donington Rematch15 April 2013After the ups and downs of the BTCC season opener at Brands Hatch, Dynojet Racing’s Frank Wrathall is hoping for a less eventful - but no less profitable - time at Donington Park this weekend (20/21 April) at the wheel of his Toyota Avensis touring car.
Wrathall heads to Donington holding eighth place overall in the BTCC driver standings, as well as fifth among the Independent drivers, following last month’s Brands Hatch rounds, in which he scored a brace of top-eight placings from the three races.
It was not a bad start to the team’s Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship bid, says Frank, but he’s hoping for an improvement, and a hat-trick of good points-scoring finishes at Donington: “We are well prepared for the weekend - we have already tested twice at Donington pre-season and personally I am up to speed with the track, and have been quite happy with the car both times we have been there. I think that we may have taken a bit of a step forward with the set-up at Brands Hatch, which we hope will translate to Donington, but we’ll not know for sure until we get some running under our belts there.”
Since Brands Hatch Wrathall has had time to reflect on the incidents which marred the second race of his weekend, which culminated in a penultimate-lap skid into a gravel trap. “It was a strange weekend because of what happened in qualifying,” said Frank, who was forced to start race one from the back of the grid after his car failed a ride height test. “Because of where I started, I had to do everything the hard way: I had to take every chance I was given to pass because it’s so hard on the Brands Indy circuit to make progress. So in the first race, knowing I had to take my chances, I went for every gap and it paid off.
“I went into race two with the same mentality, but when I went for the gaps the doors slammed shut on me and that got me in trouble... After that, I just settled for a steady run in race three, and was quite pleased to get the first weekend out of the way.”
Having had a chance to view video footage of the incident which saw him spin out of race two after a nudge from another car, he believes it to have been a ‘racing incident’. “It wasn’t intentional, just a case of everyone getting bunched up at the hairpin in a bit of a tangle. It was a funny one, because nine times out of 10 nothing would have happened. Instead I went spinning off into the gravel. A shame, because otherwise it would have meant three good finishes.”
There’s no doubting the pace of the Dynojet Toyota - it was at or near the top of the speed trap league in qualifying and in each race at Brands Hatch. Power counts for even more at Donington, and the Avensis should be strongly competitive at the circuit closest to its birthplace, the Toyota factory at Burnaston.
Adds Frank: “Donington is a track I generally go well on, and it’s always special when you drive past the Toyota sign on the way to the circuit.”
The Dynojet Racing team is backed by Mac Tools, FUCHS Titan Race, Klenzan, Dyno Drive, Angel Springs, K&N and Graphix.
Racefile: Donington Park, rounds 4, 5 & 6
Saturday 20 April: practice 1000 & 1230, qualifying 1540
Sunday 21 April: race 1 1135, pit lane walkabout 1250, race 2 1425, race 3 1715
Circuit details: www.donington-park.co.uk
Watch: qualifying live on itv.com/btcc ; races live on ITV4, ITV4HD & web
Follow: @frankwrathall & @toyotabtcc on Twitter
Bird On Epynt Podium11 Mar 2013Penrith driver Paul Bird saw his 2013 REIS/Get Connected MSA Asphalt Rally Championship campaign get underway with a superb third place finish on today's Tour of Epynt.
Driving the MinxFlix.com, Fuchs Titan, Rapid Solicitors and Kick Energy-backed, Pirelli-shod FBP Ford Focus WRC, Bird followed up his sixth place finish on his debut last season with a battling performance against the established stars on the popular event which consisted of over 80 miles on the notorious Welsh military roads.
Along with the experienced Welsh co driver Aled Davies, the British Superbike and MotoGP team boss made a good start to hold fourth place after the opening stage which he improved on the second stage to move up to third place with third fastest time.
But the former ANCRO MSA National Champion's hopes of continuing his rise up the leaderboard took a knock when a time-consuming spin on SS3 saw him drop half a minute and dropped him to fourth overall, although just 28 seconds off the lead.
A sensational second fastest time on SS4 saw him get back into the groove which he consolidated on the next stage but it was on the penultimate stage on SS6 which Bird raised some eyebrows as he set the fastest time to safeguard his third place.
A steady run through the final test saw Bird reach the finish 33 seconds behind the two leaders who could not be separated on time after over an hour's competition before it was determined in the favour of Steve Simpson who got the result by virtue of being faster than defending champion Damian Cole on the opening stage.
Paul Bird: "I'm more than happy with the result considering it's only the second time I've ever been on these roads yet some of these guys know them inside out. The spin on SS3 really hurt us and we lost the tow otherwise I think we could have been much closer to both Steve and Damian. I think I drove well; the car was great and a special thanks to Aled who was absolutely brilliant and more than contributed to our result. I'm looking forward to seeing how we get on when we get to the Isle of Man for the next round as I know my way round there and was only beaten last year by Aled and Melvyn Evans!"
Indeed Bird has taken victory on the Manx National Rally on two occasions in 2009 and 2010 so will be hoping for a maximum points haul on the event which takes place on May 10/11th.
Bird Denied Record Win On Malcolm Wilson Rally03 Mar 2013Cumbrian rally driver Paul Bird must wait another year before adding a record-equalling fourth Malcolm Wilson Rally victory to his tally after finishing runner-up for the second consecutive year after another epic battle in the Lake District forests this weekend.
Driving the Fuchs Titan, Rapid Solicitors, MinxFlix.com and Kick Energy-backed Frank Bird Poultry Ford Focus WRC07, Bird and co driver Carl Williamson were forced to settle for second place just 20 seconds down on Scottish pairing Euan Thorburn and Paul Beaton (Ford Focus WRC) at the Cockermouth finish after the 45 stage miles of competition on round two of the REIS Get Connected BTRDA Rally Series.
Back in his local forests after his retirement on last year's Grizedale Stages, the British Superbike and MotoGP team boss from Langwathby, who won the event in 2004, 2006 and 2007, set about his chase for victory with fastest times on the opening two stages in Hobcarton and Comb which he consolidated in Greystoke to lead by five seconds over Thorburn going into the two tricky Grizedale stages.
But the forest near Coniston wasn't kind to the three times winner once again and despite a good clean through the first 7.33 miler, Bird surrendered the lead to Thorburn by eight seconds and the Scot increased that advantage to 26 seconds after the 10.8 miles of Grizedale South.
Bird clawed back eight seconds with an amazing fastest time in Greystoke to set up a thrilling climax but only the short Wythop test remained where Thorburn eased to victory to deny the former National Champion a fourth win to equal Bill Dobie's record going back thirty years.
Bird said: "After losing out by just three seconds last year, I was really up for winning this year although I knew it wouldn't be easy with such a strong entry. We had a good run through the first three stages and I was feeling confident going into Grizedale but Euan just humped me in there. I thought I was driving really well but he took a chunk of time out of me so fair play to him. I'm a bit deflated to be honest as well as a little disappointed but I can have no excuses. The car was faultless, Carl and the team did a great job, but I'll be back again next year to try and get that elusive fourth win."
Bird 'Not Here To Finish Second'07 Feb 2013Cumbrian rally driver Paul Bird returns to this weekend's Legend Fires North West Stages Rally in Blackpool pledging to put his misfortune behind him after his fifth place finish on last year's event.
Bird, from Langwathby, produced one of the best drives of his career when he stormed back from 81st overall following a timing error on the opening night to clinch a sensational fifth place overall on his debut.
Now, he's returning and also hoping to end his run of bad luck which has seen him unusually retire from his last three events in the Fuchs Titan, Rapid Solicitors and Kick Energy-backed Frank Bird Poultry Ford Focus WRC07 he'll be sharing with Welsh co driver Aled Davies as regular co driver Kirsty Riddick is still injured following the freak service area accident at Croft recently.
The British Superbike and MotoGP team boss, who was National Rally Champion in 2005, is vowing to give it his all on the popular two-day event which sees many of Britain's top drivers in action.
Paul Bird: "I'm not going to finish second, that's for sure! I really enjoyed the event last year and that's why I'm back but with the road penalty, it was always going to be tough. This year, I'm the fittest I've been in years and now I have an idea of the stages, I'm going all out for victory. I've drafted Aled in who is one of the most experienced and successful co-drivers around so I'm looking forward to it and to give my old mates Bardy and Procter a run for their money!"
The event gets underway in Blackpool at 18.30 tomorrow (Friday) with a loop of stages in darkness before the overnight halt. The remainder of the 75 stage miles are tackled in daylight on Saturday before the finish at around 18.00 hours.
FRANK WRATHALL CLAIMS VICTORY FOR DYNOJET IN BTCC FINALE21 Oct 2012Frank Wrathall and the Dynojet Racing team are celebrating their maiden race victory in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship this evening after a superb drive by Frank in the final race of the season at Brands Hatch.
It was a masterly performance in treacherously wet conditions by the 26-year-old Lancashire driver, who started from second on the grid in his Toyota Avensis and who took over in front on lap four when the Ford of early leader Mat Jackson struck trouble. Wrathall pulled out a useful lead over the pursuing Hondas of Matt Neal, Gordon Shedden and Andy Jordan and romped home to win by nearly seven seconds by the end of the 15-lap sprint.
Wrathall said he knew he was driving a potential winner as early as the first corner, the notorious Paddock Hill Bend. “I got too much wheelspin off the start and moved sideways instead of forward. That allowed Jason Plato to pass me on the inside, so I just stuck to the outside line through Paddock and the car felt great and I went straight back past him. It was at that point that I thought ‘we could be all right here.’
“Getting my first win is such a relief, and it’s great for the Dynojet team, to whom I owe everything. They deserve all the praise: they have done an incredible job and all day they have been improving the Toyota to the point where it was the best car out there. Everyone has worked so hard and we’ve had far too many disappointments this year, so this is a great end to the season.”
Frank believes he had the pace to find a way past Jackson had Mat not suffered his throttle problem: “I was quite a lot quicker than him in several places. The Toyota felt like it was on rails, absolutely mega. The track was really slippery in several places and I was just concentrating on not making any mistakes, driving within myself. When Mat slowed down and I passed him for the lead all I could think was how much of the race was left, and here I was leading a touring car race for the first time.
“I was also thinking about everybody in the team. I knew what I was doing and I was pretty comfortable with things, but I reckoned that everyone in the pit garage must have been beside themselves.”
Wrathall’s victory not only cemented 10th place in the championship standings for him but also brought huge smiles to the faces of the members the Dynojet Racing team, led by Frank Wrathall Senior, who have toiled for two seasons to get to the top. The squad came into the BTCC at the start of 2011, developing the Avensis, the first of the ‘Next Generation Touring Car’ chassis, into a regular frontrunner.
Frank Senior paid tribute to his son and the team: “He didn’t do too bad, did he? I spent the race just counting it down; obviously it was at the back of my mind that the Hondas might come back at us. But we knew that we had the pace to run with them in the wet. The boys have done sterling work and our chief engineer, Charles Hodge, has chipped away at the settings all day and has done a great job.”
Wrathall laid the foundations of his memorable victory with a superb performance in the second race of the day at Brands Hatch, which he started from 21st on the grid after failing to finish race one thanks to a last-corner lunge from a rival. Frank battled through to sixth at the chequered flag in race two, which position earned him second on the grid in the reverse-grid draw.
In addition to his 10th place overall in the drivers championship, Wrathall ends 2012 in eighth place among the BTCC independent drivers. Dynojet claims fifth place in the independent teams trophy.
FIFTH PLACE AND A GOOD POINTS HAUL FOR FRANK23 Sep 2012
Frank Wrathall and the Dynojet Racing team battled not only the elements at Rockingham today in the latest rounds of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, but also technical issues and some bad luck. Through it all Frank came with a hat-trick of points-scoring finishes to boost his championship status, as well as a rousing fifth-place finish in one of the Rockingham races.
Mechanical problems early in the first free practice session set the scene for Frank’s weekend. An early scare involved the failure of a driveshaft which the Dynojet Racing technicians fixed in record time. Frank lost around five laps of running in the first free practice session due to the problem but bounced back towards the end to post a best time of 1m 24.973s to put him ninth on the timesheet.
Excessive wheelspin in the second free practice saw Wrathall unable to reproduce his earlier pace, and the team called time early on the session to concentrate on fixing the issue.
In qualifying, Wrathall improved his pace by a second and a half to post a best lap time of 1m 23.394s. Frank was pleased but believed that he could have done better had he been able to cover more laps in free practice: “It wasn’t perfect for us, but when you’ve not had any decent running in free practice, you are always going to struggle when it comes to qualifying,” said the Garstang driver.
“We had a bit of a handling imbalance, but even so we were only three-tenths off second on the grid. If we’d had a bit more time in practice and a bit more data to help us fine tune the car we’d be higher up the grid. I’m happy to be inside the top 10 but a little disappointed because the Toyota and I are capable of better.”
Race 1: 11th
Dynojet Toyota driver Wrathall netted a hard-fought 11th position in the opening BTCC race at Rockingham.
He was knocked back to 11th on the opening lap after a bump from a rival through the first turn but was soon in his stride. He demoted fellow Toyota driver Adam Morgan from 10th on the second lap into the Brook chicane and within two laps nipped through on the inside of Dave Newsham’s Vauxhall through the Tarzan hairpin to claim ninth.
“I got tapped into the first corner,” said Frank, “so I lost a couple of places there, but the Toyota was really strong to begin with and I made up a lot of time and a lot of places; things were looking good.”
Frank made it as high as eighth but lost ground in the closing laps and had to settle for 11th. “The problems we had yesterday meant that we couldn’t do any long tyre test runs,” added Frank. “Unfortunately in the race my tyres went off really badly. From about lap five it was damage limitation and a question of trying not to make any mistakes. It’s a shame because I caught Matt Neal and Rob Austin quite easily and my car was quite a bit quicker than theirs. If we’d have been able to maintain that pace we’d have had quite a good result. We have a few set-up issues to sort before the next race.”
Race 2: 5th
The rain-hit second BTCC race at Rockingham saw Wrathall storm his way through to fifth by the chequered flag in his Dynojet Avensis.
In driving rain and on a treacherously slippery circuit, bravery was the key weapon in the Toyota man’s armoury. Frank started from 11th on the grid and, after a conservative opening lap, picked up two places on lap two. Then - after a brief safety car period while the cars of others who had been less cautious were retrieved from dangerous resting places - he made quick work at the restart to claim three more scalps and slot into seventh.
“At the start, going into turn one, the conditions were so bad I could not see a thing,” said Frank. “I opted just to try to stay out of trouble on that first lap. The spray wasn’t too bad around most of the circuit, but just where you need to be the bravest, where you are finding the edge of what the car can do in the wet, and there’s a wall on the outside of the track. You are going in there blind. It was quite a relief to pick my way through some cars and get some space.”
After a two-lap battle Wrathall was past the Ford of Aron Smith and Rob Collard’s BMW to move into fifth. He set about chasing down the fourth-placed Focus of Mat Jackson and closed to within 3.1s of it by the end. “I was catching Mat; I was pushing but towards the end I made a couple of mistakes so I thought I had better back it off and bring it home. Fifth is a brilliant result.”
Race 3: 12th
The Rockingham finale brought equal doses of good and bad luck for Wrathall: bad luck in that he picked up a puncture in a clash with another car on the opening lap, but good luck in so far as the tyre held on until the final lap before finally deflating.
The first-lap bash delayed Frank and left him eighth, and he knew things were not right: “After the contact the car didn’t feel right. Then it seemed to go through a stage in the race where it was quite even and I managed to make a bit of progress.”
Wrathall made it through to sixth by two-thirds distance but then he started slipping backwards as the rear tyre steadily lost its air. Morgan nipped past him to snatch 11th place on the final lap, leaving Frank 12th at the line.
“The handling started to get worse and worse and by the end I had absolutely no air in the tyre at all: I did quite well to get it to the finish line,” said Wrathall. “It was a shame because the Toyota is really strong in the wet. It seemed like a very long race when you have a rear puncture from lap one.”
Wrathall leaves Rockingham holding ninth place in the drivers championship, 10 points ahead of BMW driver Nick Foster; he is fifth in the Independents Trophy ranking, with Dynojet Racing fifth among the Independent teams.
The home of the British Grand Prix, Silverstone, plays host to the next rounds of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, over the weekend of 6/7 October.
ROCKINGHAM OFFERS DYNOJET RACING A CHANCE TO SHINE17 Sep 2012
Rockingham Motor Speedway - Dynojet Toyota racer Frank Wrathall’s favourite track and the venue last season for some impressive results - plays host on Sunday (23 September) to the latest rounds of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship.
It’s an important weekend for Wrathall and the Dynojet Racing team as they battle to recover from disappointment last month at Knockhill, where engine problems sidelined them early on.
A new 2.0-litre turbocharged Toyota powerplant, featuring developments aimed at strengthening its already robust nature, has been fitted to the Dynojet Avensis and was shaken down at Donington Park last week. A further Donington test is planned for this week.
“Knockhill cost us a lot in championship terms,” said Wrathall, who has slipped to 10th in the standings, “because the two people who were behind us in the points finished 1-2 in the last race. But one strong weekend can change everything. We are overdue some luck and hopefully we can get back to eighth - which I feel is more where we belong - at Rockingham.”
Rockingham was a happy hunting ground last year for the 25-year-old Lancashire driver, whose Avensis claimed third place in qualifying and a double race podium. Frank scored his best-ever BTCC results - pole position followed by a race second - last month at Snetterton. His target is a maiden race win before the end of the season.
“Rockingham was excellent for us last year; it was really the only place we had the Toyota spot-on. I love Rockingham, it is definitely my favourite circuit. I always tend to go well there and I enjoy it, not least because the people who run it are always helpful and really friendly.
“I want to win a race before the end of the year - I definitely think we will have missed out if we don’t - and Rockingham may offer the best chance we have of that: we will see on the day.”
Velvetone adds shine to Dave Stoker's First Prize18 Sep 2012Mr Dave stoker of Viking motors with his prized lotus cortina.
The car won first prize at the recent Rotherham Show. The car was prepped with the new VELVETONE car range.
Mr stoker said
'It is the first time I have used the velvetone range and I am delighted with the results. The polish and wax are the best products I have used for many years.....and I have been in the car business for many years!'
WRATHALL ON TOP FORM AT SNETTERTON12 Aug 2012
Dynojet Racing and Frank Wrathall enjoyed their most successful weekend of the BTCC season to date at Snetterton, claiming the squad’s maiden pole position in qualifying, three strong points-scoring finishes in today’s races and a second-place finish - complete with Independents Trophy win - which equals their best-ever result.
The points gained by Wrathall today promote the Lancashire driver to eighth overall in the standings. “The weekend as a whole has been really good: my first pole position, some nice battles up at the front, a second place and three solid races,” said Wrathall.
Frank Wrathall celebrated his first BTCC pole position after storming Saturday’s Snetterton qualifying. Frank pipped multiple champion Jason Plato and his MG to top spot by just 0.015s in a thrilling session at the Norfolk track.
Wrathall’s stellar performance was all the sweeter for coming after a troubled morning for him and the team as they struggled to tune the Avensis to the unique demands of the 2.97-mile circuit. Frank’s best time in free practice was 1m 59.327s, only 10th fastest, but he turned up the heat to go top half-way through qualifying with a 1m 58.039s.
Plato responded with a superb 1m 57.610s to knock Wrathall from the top, but Frank was not done yet, posting 1m 57.595s - a new qualifying record for the track - on his final flying lap to wrest pole position from Plato’s grasp. Plato attempted a response but was unable to better him, and after qualifying he shook Wrathall’s hand in pit lane.
“To clinch my first pole position is an incredible feeling,” said Lancashire-based Frank. “It’s not been easy - we’ve had a really difficult day today. We gave it our all in second free practice and were nearly two seconds off the pace. The brains of the organisation did a lot of thinking and we came out with a much improved Toyota with which I could do exactly as I wanted. That last lap was as quick as I could go, and luckily Jason couldn’t match it.”
Race 1: 2nd
Frank and his Dynojet Avensis claimed a superb second place - equalling his best-ever result - in the first BTCC race of the day, the 25-year-old putting in a gutsy drive to chase multiple champion Plato all the way to the chequered flag.
Wrathall started from pole position but lost out at the lights to Plato’s MG and the Vauxhall of Dave Newsham. Frank held third for the opening laps before seizing his opportunity on lap nine when Newsham attacked Plato for the lead into Riches corner, was repulsed and lost time. Wrathall was on Newsham in a flash to snatch second from the Vauxhall man.
Newsham counter-attacked next time around but Wrathall had the answer to his move and thereafter Frank’s position never came under threat. He crossed the line 1.8s behind Plato for second overall and his second Independents class victory of the year.
“We made an incredible effort in qualifying yesterday to get pole,” said Frank. “Our race pace was a big question mark. I made a bad start, and in a way that took the pressure off me because it meant I could gauge exactly what I could do with the car. The Avensis felt great all the way through - another fantastic job by the team - and it seems to be getting better and better with each meeting so hopefully I will be on that top step sooner rather than later.”
Race 2: 5th
Frank claimed a fighting fifth-place finish in the second of the day’s races. His pace hampered by the addition of “success ballast” following his earlier result, Wrathall battled to the line to finish just 4.8 seconds behind victor Andy Jordan.
Wrathall slipped to fourth at the start behind the cars of race one winner Plato, Jordan and Matt Neal and was denied the opportunity to stay on terms with the leading trio. “The extra weight hurt in terms of the longevity of the tyres,” said Frank. “Also, we made some changes after the first race and they didn’t really go in our favour.”
Gordon Shedden’s Honda took fourth from Wrathall on lap five and Frank had to fight hard to preserve fifth under attack from the BMW of Tom Onslow-Cole. A sort-out at the front on the final lap saw Neal run wide and off the track and Wrathall nosed ahead of him for fourth place for a couple of corners. “Unfortunately I ran wide at Hamilton because I was struggling for grip, so fifth it was.”
Race 3: 7th
Frank made it a hat-trick of points-scoring finishes, concluding the day at Snetterton with a seventh-place finish.
The final race was an eventful one for Frank. He started fifth but was delayed in a first-lap incident with the Honda of reigning champion Matt Neal. “I went up his inside into the hairpin and then he squeezed me,” said Frank, “so I gave him plenty of room, and then he came across in front of me into the next corner and I had to go on the dirt in avoidance.”
Wrathall slipped to ninth as a result and successfully defended that position from an attack by BMW driver Rob Collard. Ninth place became eighth towards the end with the retirement of Vauxhall man Lea Wood, and then seventh thanks to the post-race exclusion of the Honda of Gordon Shedden for a technical infringement.
In championship terms, Wrathall moves up to eighth in the driver standings and holds fifth place among the Independent drivers, with Dynojet Racing seventh in the team standings.
Knockhill, where last year Frank scored his first top-three BTCC race finishes, is the next stop for the Dynojet team, on 26 August.
The Dynojet Racing team is backed by FUCHS Titan Race, Mac Tools, Klenzan, Angel Springs, K&N, Graphix and Autoglym.
MORE BTCC POINTS IN THE BAG FOR DYNOJET24 Jun 2012Frank Wrathall and the Dynojet Racing team picked up another two points finishes yesterday (Sunday) as the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship reached the half-way stage at Croft.
The three races in the north-east saw Frank secure a best finish of eighth at the wheel of his independent Toyota Avensis as he maintained his position in the championship, although more luck on race day could well have seen the second-year driver make further progress up the points standings.
Qualifying: 4th (of 23)
After radical changes to the Avensis following his home event at Oulton Park, Frank went into qualifying targeting a place inside the top 10 but produced a stunning lap - including the best second sector of anyone - to take fourth on the grid for the opening race of the weekend.
“I knew behind the wheel that it was a good lap and to secure fourth on the grid is absolutely brilliant,” he said. “We came here having made some pretty big changes to the car and had to work on the balance through practice. We took massive steps forwards through the day and my aim was to be in the top 10. I didn't expect to be as high as fourth so I’m delighted with the result.”
Race 1: retired
Race proved difficult for Frank after contact from the MG of Andy Neate forced him off the road at the first corner, damaging his Avensis and dropping him down to 15th place. Although he was able to battle his way back into the top 10, contact with a tyre stack at the chicane resulted in his retirement from the race on lap 14.
“Going into turn one, Neate just hit me in the rear and put me off the road,” he said. “I was able to keep going but the car wasn’t handling right as a result and I clipped the tyre stack at the chicane. It’s a shame as we should have had a top five at least in that race.”
Race 2: finished 8th
Starting from 19th on the grid in his repaired car, Frank’s target was to make up as many places as possible to try to benefit from the reverse grid draw for the final race of the weekend. Lapping quickly and consistently, Frank gradually worked his way through the midfield before crossing the line eighth; a result that would promote him to third on the grid for race three.
“Coming from 19th to finish eighth was a good result,” said Frank. “The car felt great early on but I was struggling in the final seven laps and really had to hold on to the car. I have to say thanks to the team for getting out me out as there was a lot of damage after race one.”
Race 3: finished 15th
Although he dropped two places at the start of the third race, Frank soon moved back into a podium position before a mid-race Safety Car period caused by two cars going off at Tower. At the restart, Frank lost a place to Jason Plato’s MG before a brake issue saw the Dynojet man run wide and lose valuable places. With a technical problem developing, Frank then focused on bringing his car home to the finish, which he did in the final points-scoring position.
“At the start of the final race, the Toyota was superb but I think something must have broken just before the Safety Car came out as it was suddenly really difficult to drive,” he said. “Going into Tower on the restart, I ran wide and lost places and then I just had to hold on and bring the car home. It’s a weekend that could have given us a lot more.”
Frank maintains ninth in the overall championship standings and fifth place among the independent drivers.
Next weekend Frank, and the Dynojet team will be promoting themselves to one of the biggest motorsporting crowds of the season at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, where their BTCC Avensis will join an impressive display of Toyota competition cars.
“The Goodwood Festival of Speed is an event that I really enjoy. Driving the car up the hill there is an awesome thing to do, and it’s great to be able to put on a show for such a large crowd. I’m really looking forward to it.”
The Dynojet Racing team is backed by FUCHS Titan Race, Mac Tools, Klenzan, Angel Springs, K&N, Graphix and Autoglym.
Bird Wins King Of The Hill In Barbados04 Jun 2012Penrith driver Paul Bird made a successful start to his annual sortie to the Caribbean when he won the opening event of the 2012 SOL Rally Barbados.
After finishing third in 2010 and then runner-up last year, the British Superbike and MotoGP team boss made it third time lucky when he took victory in the King of The Hill contest which comprised a 3.4-km stage lined almost its full length with over 5000 spectators.
Driving the Fuchs Titan, Rapid Solicitors and Kick Energy-backed Frank Bird Poultry Ford Focus WRC08, Bird and Scottish co driver Kirsty Riddick, became the first foreign crew to lift the title and in doing so, saw off a host of top local drivers plus some of his British Championship rivals too.
Friend and rival Steve Perez, along with Welsh co driver Paul Spooner finished in sixth in their Ford Focus WRC whilst another former National Champion, Roger Duckworth and co driver Garry Digger finished in seventh in their Subaru Impreza WRC.
Paul Bird: "We tried some new settings using suspension we hadn't used since Rally Spain in 2009 when we did a WRC round. As a result, the car was quicker and firmer as we tackled the slippy, bumpy Bajan tarmac. Rallying is for fun for me, though it gets more serious once the helmet goes on, and I probably still have a bit left in the tank for next weekend. We've never won Rally Barbados but we've now won King of the Hill so it's good for confidence going into next weekend's main event."
1 Paul Bird/Kirsty Riddick (Ford Focus WRC08) 1m 49.18s
2 Roger Skeete/Louis Venezia (Subaru Impreza WRC S12) 1m 50.26s
3 John Powell//Nicholas Telfer (Subaru Impreza WRC S14) 1m 50.42s
4 Jeffrey Panton/Michael Fennell Jnr (Ford Focus WRC06) 1m 51.24s
5 Sean Gill/Michael Cummins (Suzuki SX4 WRC) 1m 51.50s
6 Steve Perez/Paul Spooner (Ford Focus WRC07) 1m 52.29s
7 Roger Duckworth/Gary Digger (Subaru Impreza WRC) 1m 53.38s
8 Neil Armstrong/Barry Ward (Toyota Starlet) 1m 53.53s
9 Dean Serrao/Josh Delmas (Subaru Impreza WRC S9) 1m 55.83s
10 Brett Clarke/Garry Clarke (Citroen C2 S1600) 1m 55.86s etc
Second Best For Bird On Manx National Rally13 May 2012Penrith rally driver Paul Bird couldn't manage to make it a hat trick of wins on the Manx National Rally when he had to settle for second place in the latest round of the REIS - Get Connected MSA Asphalt Rally Championship.
Driving the Frank Bird Poultry and Fuchs-Silkolene sponsored Ford Focus WRC, Bird and Scottish co driver Kirsty Riddick held second place overnight on Friday just 20 seconds down on Welshman Melvyn Evans despite gearbox problems.
Bird drove as hard as he could through Saturday's remaining stages but couldn't get the better of Evans and had to settle for runner-up spot to add vital points to the championship challenge.
Paul Bird: "I could do nothing about Melvyn this weekend. He simply out-drove me and he deserved the victory. I'm pleased with second place and now I'm looking forward to SOL Rally Barbados next month."
1, Melvyn Evans/Aled Davies, Subaru Impreza, 1:36:58.3
2, Paul Bird/Kirsty Riddick, Ford Focus WRC, 1:38:17.1
3, Damian Cole/James Morgan, Ford Focus WRC, 1:41:47.9
4, John Stone/Rob Fagg, Skoda Fabia WRC, 1:43:04.2
5, Stephen Simpson/Patrick Walsh, Subaru Impreza, 1:43:30.3
6, Andrew Leece/Graham Fargher, Mitsubishi Evo 6, 1:43:53.4
7, Nigel Cannell/Michaela Cannell, Mitsubishi Evo 9, 1:44:28.2
8, John Indri/Pete Johnson, Darrian T90 GTR, 1:45:18.4
9, Peter Taylor/Andrew Roughead, Renault Clio R3, 1:48:39.0
10, Osian Pryce/Dai Roberts, Citroen DS3 R3, 1:48:54.7
GOOD SCORES FOR DYNOJET RACING AT DONINGTON16 April 2012Frank Wrathall and the Dynojet Racing team secured healthy points from the second meeting of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season at Donington Park yesterday, with the team showing the potential of its revised Toyota Avensis.
Frank collected points in each of the three races to kick-start his season after a troublesome opening encounter of the year at Brands Hatch earlier this month, and there is the promise of more still to come as the team unlocks more speed from its Next Generation Touring Car machine.
Qualifying: 11th (of 23)
A solid performance in qualifying saw Frank secure 11th on the grid for the first race of the weekend, with the Toyota man improving his best time by more than a second over the course of the day after two earlier practice sessions. Although a small issue with the car meant he missed out on the chance to start inside the top 10, Frank found himself well placed for Sunday’s three races.
“It’s a bit disappointing as we had a decent first run in the session and we improved the car, but then the red flag came out when I’d set my quickest time in the first sector,” he said. “I had to bide my time when the circuit was damp and then when the circuit dried and I was on my fastest lap, we had a slight issue which meant I couldn’t show our maximum potential.
“I think we would have been three or four places higher up the grid but the car feels good and I’m confident for tomorrow as I think we have strong race pace.”
Race 1: finished 9th
For Frank, the aim for the opening race was to stay out of trouble and get a solid finish after the issues that had forced him to retire from two races during the season opener at Brands Hatch. Achieving his aim with ease, Frank crossed the line in ninth place for his first top 10 result of 2012.
“It was a good start,” he said. “I stayed out of trouble and kept my nose clean and we managed to make up some places and take ninth. It was nice to have a solid finish.”
Race 2: finished 14th
The second race of the weekend would see Frank making up places to run well inside the top 10, and he seemed set to take another solid finish to go with his earlier result. Unfortunately, contact with the Ford of Aron Smith as the pair diced for position going into the Old Hairpin would see Frank drop down the order, although he battled back into the points to cross the line in 14th.
“The Ford was so quick in a straight line but then so slow in the corners,” he explained. “I had to make a move and when he was slow out of the first corner, I got alongside down the Craner Curves and went for the inside into the Old Hairpin. I was fully alongside but he turned in and the contact meant I had a spin and dropped to the back of the field. We recovered well to make up some places but it’s a shame we had the clash - I was as quick as anyone else at the end of the race.”
Race 3: finished 7th
From 14th on the grid for race three, Frank faced a challenge to try to fight back into the top 10, but having avoided a number of incidents ahead, he picked up places to take up sixth. A small mistake at the chicane would cost him places and drop him to 10th, but again he battled back to cross the line in eighth place, which then became seventh when race winner Mat Jackson was excluded from the result for a technical infringement.
“The Toyota felt good and we’re making progress with it all the time,” he said. “To be honest, we should have been fourth or fifth in that race but then I made a mistake at the chicane which I was lucky to hold. The rear tyres has started to go off and the brakes were getting worn and I just went in a bit too hot. We came back to take seventh and I think that was my best race of the year; I enjoyed mixing it with the pack.
“The car has undergone a massive change since Brands Hatch. We had one issue we never got on top of there but we dialled it out here and the car was more to my liking. There is still a lot more to come but we aren’t in a bad position.”
The Dynojet team’s next test comes at Thruxton, near Andover, on 29 April.
The Dynojet Racing team is backed by FUCHS Titan Race, Mac Tools, Klenzan, Angel Springs, K&N, Graphix and Autoglym.
Wrathall Ready For Donington Date10 April 2012Donington Park, near Derby, is the venue this Sunday (15 April) for the next stop on the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship trail for Frank Wrathall and the Dynojet Racing team, and the squad is hoping that "home advantage" - Toyota’s Burnaston factory is just 10 miles from the track - will help it score some strong results in front of a partisan crowd.
Key to the team’s success will be a pre-event test programme: "Before we head to Donington we are going back to Brands Hatch for what will hopefully be a good full day’s worth of testing," said 25-year-old Frank, who was the BTCC’s top rookie of 2011. "The plan is to get close to an ideal set-up for the Avensis, and then we should be able to get near the front at Donington.
"I want to qualify in the top 10 again, as I did at Brands Hatch, and then three top-10 race finishes are what we need - if we can do any better it will be a bonus. I’m feeling the pressure to go well because I know that a lot of people from Toyota’s Burnaston factory will be coming down."
To get in the mood for a speedy and exciting weekend at Donington, Frank and several of his BTCC rivals last week paid a promotional visit to nearby Alton Towers, where they spread the touring car message among the pre-Easter crowds and posed for pictures on the famous rides, like Rita and Oblivion.
"It was a great day out," said Frank. "I’ve never been shown straight to the front of the queue and straight on to the front of the ride before. I could get used to that sort of treatment."
Wrathall is certainly not expecting such an easy ride on Sunday, but adds: "We will be better prepared for this event than we were for Brands Hatch, so hopefully we will be well placed to make some useful progress. I would like to come away with some strong results and at least one excellent race to show what the car is capable of."
The Dynojet Racing team is backed by FUCHS Titan Race, Mac Tools, Klenzan, Angel Springs, K&N, Graphix and Autoglym.
Racefile Donington Park, rounds 4, 5 & 6
Saturday 14 April: practice 0955 & 1230, qualifying 1525
Sunday 15 April: race 1 1137, pit lane walkabout 1300, race 2 1412, race 3 1715
Circuit details www.donington-park.co.uk
Watch qualifying live on itv.com/touringcars ; races live on ITV4, ITV4HD & web
Follow @frankwrathall & @toyotabtcc on Twitter