This weekend the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) season will resume after a six week summer break, and both the Toyota Avensis fielding privateer squads are looking for “big improvements” after extensive development work to the brand new cars.
The NGTC-spec Avensis started the year as an almost entirely untested design and each of the first five rounds of the season represented another leap in developing the car and the work at both the teams running the cars and GPR Motorsport who built the cars.
“I think the changes we have made will result in some big improvements,” said Dynojet driver Frank Wrathall, whose best finish this season is 12th. “We have been developing the geometry of the Avensis, putting a lot of effort into trying to find the sweet spots. Hopefully that will pay off and be visible to everyone at the next round.”
“We've developed a new exhaust system, which we hope will not only improve performance but also ease of working on the car, while retaining the great sound of the Avensis. The new Toyota engine was really strong at Croft, a match for anything out there, so I am hopeful for a good set of results at Snetterton. Hopefully I can do the Avensis justice.”
Down the pitlane at Speedworks Motorsport – the other team to adopt the Avensis in its debut year – there have been further changes, GPR's chief development driver Kelvin Burt testing the car after comprehensive set-up changes. Regular driver Tony Hughes will drive the car dor the first time since the changes this week.
“We have made good progress and made a big step forward,” said Speedworks boss Christian Dick, “but the developments have put us into a new ball park with the set-up, and we have not had as much circuit time as we would have liked to evaluate things.”
As well as the prospect of improved Toyotas for the weekend the return to racing puts the BTCC field on the revised Snetterton track for the first time, with none of the drivers having driven competitively on the new '300' layout of the Norfolk venue.
“I have always enjoyed Snetterton,” said Wrathall. “I won there last year in my Ginetta sports car – and I am looking forward to getting to grips with the new layout. From what I have seen, it will be good for the drivers and provide some great action.”