There will be no shortage of support for Frank Wrathall and Tony Hughes at Donington Park this weekend with employees from the Burnaston factory where their Toyota Avensis cars began life expected to attend the second round of the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC).
The bodyshells for the two cars were produced at the plant, just ten miles from the East Midlands circuit, before Buckingham-based firm GPR Motorsport completed the build of the two NGTC-spec racers.
“It was not simply a case of turning up at Burnaston and collecting the bodyshells,” said GPR boss Gary Blackham. “Everyone at the factory has been incredibly helpful and supportive of the project throughout the car's sometimes painful delivery. We couldn't have done it without that assistance.”
During the fortnight between the year's opening races at Brands Hatch and this weekend's Donington encounters both Wrathall's Dynojet and Hughes' Speedworks teams have been working to solve the teething problems with restrained the new spec cars on their debut. However, the success of this work will only be proved on track this weekend.
Donington Park also holds special significance for Toyota and Frank Wrathall though their connection with the 1991 BTCC champion Will Hoy.
After winning the title Hoy was part of the Andy Rouse-prepared Toyota team in 1992, a year when he won two races, including one at Donington Park. After Hoy died in 2002 the Will Hoy Scholarship was established in his name, and a teenage Wrathall was one of the drivers to have their talent recognised by the scheme.
“Winning the Will Hoy Scholarship two years in succession was a massive boost to my early career,” said Frank, “and I will always be grateful for that backing.” The Dynojet car sports small stickers of Hoy's crash helmet on the door mirrors in tribute.
More than a month after the disaster the pair of privateers will also carry decals supporting the British Red Cross Tsunami Appeal. Donations can be made at www.redcross.org.uk/japantoyota.