Sandown winner Wood's pre-race panic

Dunlop Series
16 Sep
'I actually thought I burnt the clutch, I was loading it up that much'
  • Wood won third race of 2023 in Sandown opener

  • WAU rookie thought he fried clutch on the grid

  • Wood passed Zak Best for lead after losing it at Turn 1

Saturday winner Ryan Wood feared a worse fate off the line before his dominant charge to victory at the Penrite Oil Sandown 500.

Wood won Race 1 in a canter for the Walkinshaw Andretti United, with the Kiwi leading from Turn 2 onwards in the 40-minute race.

The young driver raced away from Dunlop Super2 Series leader Zak Best, who held off a charging Zach Bates.

Wood’s run to victory, his third of the season and first since Perth in April, wasn’t all smooth sailing after he ran hot on the grid before the lights went out.

The teenager bogged down off the line and was eaten up by Best — who started fifth — and Aaron Love, with the two Fords almost colliding into Turn 1.

Best led Wood out of Turn 1, with the two swapping places as the WAU Commodore rounded up the Anderson Mustang as Best opted for the dirty line.

From there, Wood was never headed — although it could have been a different story.

Wood regains lead from fast-starting Best

“I actually thought I burnt the clutch, I was loading it up that much. I freaked out and dropped it all in a panic,” said Wood, who will make his main game debut in 2024.

“I managed to get the criss-cross out of [Turn] 2… I could see Zak was on the dirty line, it’s real hard to brake down there.

“Got the criss-cross, controlled the race from there, the car was faultless, pretty cool."

On managing the race and tyre life, Wood added: “It’s a lot of in-depth thinking about it, to make sure what we do early in the race to make the end easier.

“I did that today, and hopefully we can do it again tomorrow.”

Kai Allen came home fourth, some 14.5s from behind Wood, with Best extending his Super2 series lead over the Eggleston Motorsport driver from 66 to 84 points.

Wood, who won both races in Perth in April, moved up to third and is now 135 points behind Best.

Dunlop Series drivers will return to the track for Race 2 qualifying at 9:15am on Sunday morning, followed by Race 2 at 12:50pm.

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