WOOD JUST MISSES OUT IN ROCKINGHAM FAREWELL
The Pickup Racers had the honour of being the final race on the Rockingham oval circuit, before it’s closure and Hereford ace Lea Wood was right in the thick of the action.
With a wet track for qualifying it was more a case of caution. “It was just for the Rockingham Championship and I was out of the running after my engine issues there a few months ago, so I used it for practice and concentrated staying off those concrete walls. I used some old wet tyres too,” he explained.
For the Rockingham races there is always a significant change in the trucks, “we change from a 2.5 Duratec to a 2.3, as the oval is such a high revving circuit,” he added.
For the start of the first race he was on row five, but made a lightnting start to hold sixth by the end of the opening lap.
But within a few laps the top seven were running line astern, with Wood trying to make progress through the order. “So long as you stayed with the lead group for the first 25 laps, the race really then began to start, but you can’t really afford to drop off the back and expect to get back,” he said.
By lap 19 only Michael Smith lay between Wood and the lead, but it was still seven cars in contention. The exchanges continued right down to the last lap, with Wood settling into fourth. “I did have a go at the 3rd place man on the last corner, going down the inside but didn’t quite get the exit we needed as we powered to the line, but was happy with fourth. It was one of my best races at Rockingham, pushing at the front straightaway, and I saved the tyres. It handled well and I just missed the podium,” he said.
For race two it was another fifth row start, but strategies came into play too. “There was a compulsory pitstop between laps 15 and 22 so we had planned to make our stop early due to our position in the pitlane,” Wood explained.
From the start of the race everyone had become a little detached from the leader, “it took some time for it to unfold, but I think we made the right decision to stop early as the eventual winner Paul Tompkins did too,” he said.
After all the stops had been taken he became embroiled in a duel with fellow title contender David O’Regan for sixth. He got by on lap 29 and hunted down Scott Bourne a couple of laps later.
Time was running out when he managed to oust Bourne for 4th place, “the top three were too far ahead still, so it was the distance and time I had left that proved too much,” he said after taking the flag fourth again.
“Being the last ever race on the oval I was really happy with fourth in each race. I have always been wary of the concrete walls here, but today it was good, spot on and now it’s time to focus on the main championship and Pembrey on October 13th/14th as it’s all to play for,” he concluded.
Published by Peter Scherer for Lea Wood Racing, September 28th 2018.
The build of the new Ford 2.5 Duratec is underway after suffering piston failure at Rockingham just over a week ago.
Time is tight so it’s all systems go to make sure the Central Roofing Pickup Truck is race ready for Thruxton 7/8 July.
Fingers crossed 🤞🏻
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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.
A 22 car field took to the two Qualifying sessions at the Kent circuit on the Sunday afternoon in the dry conditions, Hereford racer Lea Wood took second fastest lap in both sessions to secure a good starting position for the races the following day.
The Bank Holiday Monday brought heavy rain downpours for the initial races of the season, and starting from the third row (with the reverse grid positions from qualifying) Wood soon surged forward in very wet conditions to fight for the lead of the race, meanwhile posting the fastest lap time of the race (1:02.163).
The new engine and gearbox package has proved the right move for the Central Group Racing Team, providing a very competitive Truck for Wood to take the first win of the 2018 season.
Once again Wood started from P5 in race 2 in similar wet conditions, this time with 30kg of success ballast now on board. Whilst running in the top 3, with 3 laps left to run, contact between two other drivers allowed Lea to capitalise on there mistake and take the lead of the race, ultimately the second race win of the day.
Speaking after the second race, Wood commented: “To have such a successful first weekend of the season is exactly where we want to be coming away from this race meeting.
I’ve always been a fan of the wet weather and it’s something that’s never phased me.
The new powertrain in the Central Group Racing Truck feels fantastic and we’ve put in a lot of preparation coming into this season.
We’re also leading the drivers points standings too, so I’m really looking forward to Croft in a few weeks time to hopefully build on what we’ve done here at Brands,” added the TruckTEC supported driver.
This season is Woods 3rd in BARC Pickup Truck Racing Championship, having finished 3rd in 2017 & 2nd in 2016. The popular racing series heads to Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire on April 21st & 22nd.
The final race of the day puts us on the top step of the podium once again here Brands Hatch bringing us a total of two race wins this weekend and the lead of the Pickup Truck Racing Championship. Thanks to all involved Central Roofing Commercial Vehicle Aftermarket Parts BlendLine ApparelKempowell Electrical Services Ltd John Wood Tyres John Wood Tyres Leominster Wenlock Spring TOYO TIRES Nicky Grist Motorsports P1 Advanced Racewear