Toyota’s trio of Avensis-driving BTCC stars face their toughest test of the season so far when they tackle Thruxton, the fastest circuit on the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship calendar, on Sunday (29 April).
It is not only that the Hampshire track’s sweeping 150mph corners are among the most daunting of any UK circuit, but also that none of the Toyota men has any real knowledge of how his car might perform. Frank Wrathall’s new Dynojet Racing Avensis is a markedly different machine to that which he raced at Thruxton last year, while neither Tony Hughes nor Adam Morgan has experienced the track in a Speedworks Motorsport Toyota.
“It is going to be a bit of a leap into the unknown,” said 23-year-old rookie racer Morgan. “I have competed before at Thruxton and have had some tuition there, but no testing at all in the Avensis, so it is going to take me a few laps to get up to speed.” The Ciceley Racing driver crashed heavily at Thruxton in 2010 in his Ginetta sports car - something he remembers only too well. “I went off at Church corner and flipped over the barrier. Fortunately I was not at top speed at the time but it’s not something I want to try again.” Morgan, 23, bounced back from that experience to win at Thruxton last year in his Ginetta Supercup car.
Adam is looking to follow up on the successes he enjoyed last time out, at Donington Park, where he scored his first BTCC points and collected the Speedworks team’s best-yet race finish, 13th.
The Lancashire man is also looking for a slightly more relaxing time than he endured last weekend, when he successfully completed his first triathlon - a 400m swim followed by a 26km bicycle ride and a 6km running race. “It was really tough and I hated every minute of it while I was doing it,” admitted Adam, “but a day afterwards I was looking for more triathlons to enter.”
His Speedworks team-mate Hughes missed the 2011 Thruxton races. “I haven’t driven the Toyota there and it’s going to be exciting, I am sure,” said the Cheshire-based businessman, who is celebrating the announcement of a Queen’s Award for Enterprise for his company, Hughes Safety Showers of Stockport.
Hughes is also looking to maintain his BTCC scoring habit: he claimed his first championship point at Brands Hatch at the beginning of the month and added another at Donington Park last time out.
Frank Wrathall is meanwhile hoping that the three points-scoring finishes he earned at Donington Park were an appetite-whetter for more at Thruxton. “Donington was just what we needed - three solid races and no damage,” said Garstang-based Frank, 25. “Hopefully we can repeat that and perhaps even do a little better.”
Last year at Thruxton Frank and the Dynojet team were robbed of any significant running by teething problems in what was then a new and unproven car. “In what little time get did get on track we were soon on the pace,” said Wrathall, “so I hope that with the advances that we have made with the Toyota we will be even closer to the front. I have always gone well at Thruxton, but it is an unusual track and you can never really be totally sure how things will pan out. We will certainly be giving it our best shot.”
Six rounds into the season, Wrathall holds 13th place overall in the championship standings and is 11th among the independent drivers. Dynojet Racing is ninth in the team standings.
Sunday’s BTCC race action at Thruxton gets underway at 11.25; all three touring car races will be shown live on ITV4 and itv.com