It was a busy weekend for Lea Wood at Rockingham, as not only did he star in the Pickup Truck Racing Championship, but also took part in the inaugural C1 Series Rockingham 24hr race.
As he is the current Pickup Truck Racing Championship leader, his priority for the weekend was to get two good results from there. “I qualified quickest for the first race, but was pipped by Carl Boardley in the second by 0.061 secs,” said the Hereford driver.
With the top six then reversed for the starting grid, he started in sixth for the first race and picked off a place a lap over the first two, before charging into second on lap three.
It was the first time the Pickups had used this version of the Northamptonshire circuit, but Wood was familiar with it from his British Touring Car Championship campaigns. “Most of the passing was into the Deene Hairpin, outbraking,” he said.
He gradually edged closer and closer to leader Mark Willis and after a couple of earlier forays, he made his move into the Tarzan Hairpin on lap 10. “The others closed towards the end and I was able to ease off as I had still had enough in hand, taking victory by 0.503 secs, also securing fastest lap of the race in a time of 1:30.656.
Despite starting the second race from fifth on the reverse grid, he had the lead into Deene Hairpin on the opening lap. There was a bit of contact as everyone tried to outbrake each other, so I sat back a little and got through,” he said.
He survived two safety car interventions to retain the lead but was finally demoted by Boardley into Deene on the seventh lap, taking the flag a close second to retain his championship lead. “We swapped a couple of times before he finally got me,” he concluded.
That would normally have been the end of his racing, but due to his commitment to the OAP Racing team, made up of mainly seasoned MG drivers, he was forced to run from the Pickup parc ferme to the starting grid for the C1 24hrs race.
“One of our drivers took the car to the grid for me and I offered to let him start, but with 49 cars and we were 14th, he declined,” Wood explained.
It was both wet and gloomy as the race got under way. “I had set the qualifying time so felt fairly happy, but was very cautious early on, as I didn’t want to wreck things for the team who had been there for a few days already,” he said.
It took a while to adjust from the Pickup to a Citroen C1 though, which was basically a road car.
“After the first hour we were 20th but when I brought the car in at 7.20pm we were back up to 12th and looking good,” he added.
While the other drivers had their stints, Lea was back in at 5.40am for his second and final stint, but they had dropped back to 30th again. “The car was good still and I got it back to 20th.
When the chequered flag was waved after 24hrs, the sun was out and the team and had climbed to a satisfying 18th place. “It was a fantastic event, the organisation was brilliant and I couldn’t fault it. The only thing we did to the car was change tyres, put fuel in, one set of brake pads and replace a door mirror,” fantastic,” he concluded.