Frank Wrathall capped a day of firsts at Brands Hatch by taking his maiden win in a very wet final race of the 2012 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at a gloomy Brands Hatch.
It was also the first win for Toyota for nearly 20 years, the last coming in 1993 courtesy of a Julian Bailey triumph at Knockhill, while Pirtek Racing wrapped up the Independents Team Trophy after Redstone Racing’s Mat Jackson retired while leading.
Jackson had led off the line as Wrathall struggled but a recurrence of the throttle problem which took away a win at Silverstone saw him pull to one side at Paddock, thus ending Redstone’s chances at the team’s title – with Andrew Jordan’s third place finish enough to give Pirtek those honours.
Despite the crowning of new champion Gordon Shedden in the penultimate race, the season finale certainly did not lack in action, as Jackson led the field away for the final time in 2012. Wrathall got away poorly but held Plato at bay, while Andrew Jordan suffered from excessive wheelspin for the third time today.
Dave Newsham had a stunning opening lap, up to 10th from the back, while Jason Plato – who ran third at the start – began to drop back, the first signs of a struggle coming as early as the second lap, when the MG wobbled on the exit of Graham Hill Bend, allowing Matt Neal through.
That set the tone for the remainder of the race as first Shedden made his way past, before Jordan, and later Newsham and Rob Austin, followed suit. Meanwhile at the front Wrathall was hounding the Focus, looking every way to try and find a way past – though in the end he didn’t need to.
The pair ran side-by-side across the line but as they rounded paddock, Jackson slowed, crawling up the hill and round Druids before retiring. It freed up Neal to take second but Wrathall only extended his now two second advantage, building it to nearly four seconds at one stage, and the DynoJet youngster was without error for the entirety of the race.
Jackson’s retirement meant heartbreak for Redstone, who courtesy of Smith’s race two win had gone into the race with a genuine chance of the Indy title, and had looked set to claim an unlikely triumph. The DNF handed it to Pirtek and Jordan, their task made easier when Rob Collard and Tom Onslow-Cole came together at Clearways – despite Jeff Smith going off into the gravel.
Shedden began to pressure Neal and Jordan was on the Yuasa pair as well, the Civics line-astern, but the trio were fighting over best of the rest, with Wrathall uncatchable at the front.
One driver who was certainly catchable was Plato – now being hounded by Lea Wood. Though he would keep the BINZ Racing man at bay, eighth hardly represented the sort of finish he and the team had hoped for after Silverstone.
And so Wrathall, four seconds clear now, took the win – a popular triumph from a youngster who has often promised so much – ahead of the Honda trio, who slowed and took the flag nearly side-by-side. Smith capped a great day for him – his best in the championship – with fifth, while Newsham held off Austin for sixth, the pair enjoying a great scrap for the majority of the race.