Frank’s podium joy

Frank Wrathall celebrates on the podium
Frank Wrathall celebrates on the podium

A YOUNG Garstang racing driver is celebrating a milestone result in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship – a fantastic fourth-place finish and independent class victory to make it to the podium for the first time.

Frank Wrathall put in a stunning drive in the first of the day’s Snetterton rounds at the weekend to secure the dramatic result and to open the second half of the BTCC season with a bang.

Wrathall, 24, found it hard to take it in as he was saluted on the Snetterton podium.

“I can’t believe it. it’s absolutely incredible. It’s been such an epic journey from the first round in April. Now here I am standing on the podium – I’m speechless,” he said.

“The aim for the year was to get into the points. To get fourth overall and top independent at the sixth meeting of the year is way beyond our expectations. From day one we’ve known that the Avensis had the potential. To put everything together and to get a podium finish is the best reward for all the hard work that’s gone in.”

Wrathall’s drive on the new three-mile layout of the Norfolk track was a copybook performance. He started seventh on the grid in his Toyota after the best qualifying showing yet from one of the “next generation touring cars”, then he survived an opening lap fraught with danger, successfully avoiding the spinning Honda of Matt Neal to claim a place.

A brave dive down the inside of James Nash’s Vauxhall into Agostini secured him fifth on lap two, and Frank then latched on to the tail of fourth-placed Tom Chilton in his Ford. Wrathall’s pressure caused Chilton to run wide out of Riches on lap six, handing fourth on a plate to Wrathall.

By this stage the leading trio – Jason Plato, Alex MacDowall and Gordon Shedden – were four seconds clear and, though he chased hard, Frank was unable to reel them in.

Wrathall’s result brought him not only maximum BTCC Independent Drivers points, but also his first main championship points – the first-ever scored by the driver of an NGTC car.

Frank shone in race two also, holding third place for eight of the 12 laps after a brilliant start and making progress on the opening lap.

The Avensis man started from fourth on the grid and outfoxed reigning champion Jason Plato first time around through Williams to seize third.

Frank proceeded to challenge the second-placed Vauxhall of James Nash for several laps until an overheating problem – caused by damage to the radiator – set in.

Wrathall put up a spirited defence of third under pressure from Plato and his Chevrolet team-mate Alex MacDowall, but they both found their way past him on lap nine. Frank pulled over on the following lap to avoid damaging the Avensis engine.

Alas the damaged radiator required complete replacement, so Wrathall had to watch the third and final race from the sidelines .