Hereford racing star Lea Wood has made a promising start to the keenly contested British Pickup Racing Championship after two meetings.
Wood, 31, who made his name in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, where he won the Jack Sears Trophy in 2013, is lying ninth after his first drive on the ‘oval’ circuit at Rockingham Motor Speedway, the country’s fastest race circuit, at the weekend.
Despite recording the 11th fastest lap time in practice, he was classed as a “rookie” because he hadn’t driven on the ‘oval’ circuit before and was forced to start from the back of the grid. However, the Morris Lubricants sponsored racer worked his way through the field of 18 cars for two eighth places and a ninth.
Having had problems with an engine water pipe in opening round at Brands Hatch last month, which stopped him completing one of the two races, he was delighted with the performance of the Ford Ranger at Rockingham. With three more rounds at Rockingham, he’s looking forward to a much better grid place next time when his qualifying time will count.
The car is supplied and prepared by Dave Longhurst, Wood’s engineer from the touring car championship. The sponsors are Morris Lubricants, Central Roofing, S&P Crossways Garage, Wheelheaven and Houseman Dry Lining.
“I was really pleased with the results at Rockingham because we managed to finish all three races and consistency is important in this championship,” said Wood. “Pickup racing is a completely different kettle of fish to touring cars and there’s a lot of learn about gaining speed and knowing where to overtake during races.
“Our average lap speed at Rockingham was 130mph and the top speed of 140mph, which meant that it was taking about 40 seconds to complete a lap and you don’t touch the brake. Your speed is regulated by the accelerator.
“I have had to take off my touring car head and learn a new set of racing skills. It’s all about being smooth on the circuit and being inch perfect on line. The ‘oval’ racing is different altogether to the other circuits because you have to team up with a spotter in the grandstand who talks to the driver throughout the race, telling him about the movements of other drivers.
“There is no room for error during races and that’s why we rely on the spotters so much. My spotter is Dave Longhurst who is very experienced having raced the pickup himself last year.
“It’s impossible to go racing without our sponsors and I am delighted to be working again with Morris Lubricants who also sponsor Dave Jenkins in the British Truck Racing Championship.”
Craig Bastable, Morris Lubricants’ marketing manager, said the Shrewsbury-based company was delighted to be supporting Lea again. “He has been a first rate ambassador for Morris Lubricants since the start of our sponsorship activity in the British Touring Car Championship 2013 season and we have high hopes for Lea in the pickup championship.”
The next round of the championship is at Rockingham on May 28-29 followed by Thruxton on June 11-12. The remaining rounds are: Rockingham July 2-3, Donnington July 23-24, Silverstone August 13-14, Rockingham September 17-18, Pembrey October 15-16 and Brands Hatch November 5-6.