The quartet of Toyota Avensis drivers’ in the 2013 British Touring Car Championship all showed glimpses of speed as the new campaign got underway at a cold Brands Hatch.
At the end of the weekend, it was Adam Morgan who was the lead Toyota driver, as the Ciceley Racing star secured his first piece of BTCC silverware in the third race of the day, bringing the #33 Avensis home fourth overall having been on for a podium for the majority of the race.
The opening race saw Morgan finish seventh overall having opted to run the soft tyre for the opener and he improved by another position in race 2, finishing sixth overall and thus securing a front row start for the final race.
His trio of top three results means that he is sixth in the Championship standings.
“It would have been nice to get a top-three finish in the final race but an independent win is great and you have to put things into perspective,” he said. “This weekend has ended up a million times better than the opening round last year.
“I’m so proud of the team and how they have performed. They worked so hard over the winter to build the car and it’s down to them that I was able to go out on track and race so strongly. It’s a great start.”
Fellow Avensis driver Frank Wrathall had a tough start to the season after he was demoted to last on the grid after qualifying having failed the ride height check.
Undeterred by being sent to the back of the 27 car field, the Dynojet racer fought his way up the field to cross the line sixth in the opening race and he’d have to replicate his race one form in the third race.
Race 2 saw Wrathall in the wars, having spun out both Colin Turkington and Rob Austin, Wrathall then had his race finished in the gravel at Druids after a tap from Matt Neal.
From the back of the grid in race 3, Wrathall staged another recovery drive to cross the line eighth, and his Brands Hatch results mean that he is eighth in the overall Championship.
“This is the first time we’ve gone into the season with some solid pre-season running behind us, and it showed,” explained Wrathall. “The team prepared a good car coming here and we have a great one going forwards. Race two was a bit crazy and it’s a shame we didn’t get a result there, but two top-10 finishes is a good start to the new campaign.”
Speedworks Motorsport and their drivers, Dave Newsham and Ollie Jackson both had their ups and downs at Brands Hatch, with Newsham suffering a double DNF either side of a top ten finish, race one ending early after his alternator failed on him while race 3 saw him involved in a major accident at Paddock Hill with the Audi of Rob Austin.
“The back end just got away from me – it was the same problem we have been suffering from all weekend: cold tyres and no grip,” said Newsham on the incident with Austin in the third race of the day. “I feel gutted for Rob, but that’s motor racing.”
Meanwhile Jackson scored points on his debut for the team before missing the final race due to damage sustained in the second race, where he had been running a strong seventh.
“It’s not been a great weekend for us, but we’ll take what positives we can from it,” Speedworks boss Christian Dick reflected.
“Both Ollie and Dave have done fantastic jobs for us in difficult circumstances, and we will see the benefit of that later in the season.”