Lea Wood and the Houseman Racing team emerged from another bruising British Touring Car Championship weekend at Oulton Park (June 8 2014) with yet more valuable experience and further points in the revised Jack Sears Trophy.
The weekend began in tricky fashion as a wet-dry qualifying session made finding the ideal setup on the team’s Toyota Avensis a difficult task. With the car brand new to the Houseman squad this season they had no base to work from, leaving Wood satisfied to record a 1m45.881s which placed him 23rd on the 31-car grid.
Race one found Wood looking to remain out of trouble, but preventing his rivals from getting uncomfortably close proved difficult. He was hit hard from behind by a competitor, pushing the back bumper of his Avensis into the rear wheel. Wood was able to complete the race in 22nd despite this impediment, but it would cost him valuable performance. Indeed, when he returned to the pits it was found that the lodged bumper had worn the tyre down to its canvas.
The second race unfolded in similar fashion, with several more bruising encounters in the BTCC’s notoriously competitive midfield pack. Fortunately the Avensis remained in tact on this occasion, allowing Wood to complete a solid run to an improved 17th spot.
The weekend’s final outing would prove to be a dramatic affair as heavy rain shortly before the start meant Wood and his fellow competitors would be racing on a drenched circuit with a dry setup, albeit with wet-weather tyres.
Despite this challenge Wood made a brilliant getaway, vaulting several positions to run 11th in the early laps. However he now found himself in heavy traffic and was unfortunate to miss a braking point, sending him wide and back down the order. He was subsequently hit from behind, knocking the car’s tracking out and making the changeable conditions all the more difficult. However he was able to hang on to seal 19th at the flag, completing another full weekend of running.
The Oulton Park contest also saw Wood record further points in the revised Jack Sears Trophy standings, which this year rewards the independent driver who achieves the greatest improvement from their respective grid positions. Wood has thus far earned 27 points, placing him equal-ninth of the 27 independents and level with two-time BTCC champion Fabrizio Giovanardi.
Lea Wood: “It’s been another good weekend as we’ve once again managed to gather significant data and come away relatively unscathed. There’s no major damage to the car, and after some of the scrapes we had that’s something to be positive about!
“As ever we were focussed on mastering the Avensis and putting as many miles on the clock as possible. With every race we’re that much more prepared and always manage to make up several spots from our qualifying position, which shows we’re improving throughout each weekend. As ever, a big thanks to my sponsors and fans for allowing us to continue making progress.
“Next up is Croft. I’ve nothing against the place, but no matter what car or series I’ve been racing in, I’ve never had any luck there! Fingers crossed we can put that right with a good weekend this year.”
Wood will look to break his run of misfortune at the 2.1-mile Croft circuit when the championship resumes at the North Yorkshire venue in three weeks’ time (June 29).