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Walkinshaw backs rookie Wood after baptism of fire

Supercars
29 Feb
'The timesheet doesn't lie… I think he's gonna be a championship-winning driver'
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  • Ryan Walkinshaw backs Ryan Wood after double Bathurst DNF

  • Wood was eighth and 11th in both qualifying sessions

  • Walkinshaw labels Wood a "championship-winning driver"

Ryan Walkinshaw has backed rookie Ryan Wood to make a big statement in Supercars despite a “baptism of fire” in the Thrifty Bathurst 500.

Wood made his main game debut with Walkinshaw Andretti United at Mount Panorama, and was a revelation over one lap as he qualified eighth on Saturday, and 11th on Sunday.

Bad luck would ultimately rear its head — Wood was dropped out of the Saturday Shootout over a penalty, before he was taken out in both races.

Wood was hit into the Hell Corner sand on Saturday, before he was ruled out on Sunday with a broken rack following contact on pit straight.

For Walkinshaw, however, Wood has everything it takes — and more — to succeed in the top flight, with the one-lap pace proof the 20-year-old is the real deal.

Race start: Triple Eight duo deny Mostert, Wood wiped out

"I think he made a pretty big statement in his first qualifying session as a main game driver getting P8.” Walkinshaw said. “

The timesheet doesn't lie and he put in a fantastic performance, and he backed it up today as well with P11. He's definitely got a lot of speed.

"I think he's gonna be a championship-winning driver.

“But, he had his first baptism of fire at Bathurst, in the middle of the pack and had two incidents which arguably weren't his fault.

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“He’s obviously disappointed… obviously he wanted to be able to have a fair crack at having a fight with everyone. But, unfortunately, that's how motorsport is sometimes.”

First lap: Mostert gets the jump, Hill sent into a spin

Wood dominated last year’s Dunlop Series, taking more race wins, round wins and pole positions than any other driver in his first year in Supercar machinery.

WAU had seen enough, announcing mid-season that Wood would replace Nick Percat.

Walkinshaw was equally impressed by how Wood, at only 20 years of age, was able to keep his chin up despite missing out in both races, consigning the Kiwi to zero points.

“I think the important thing is his attitude has been fantastic. He's shown what he can do in qualifying,” Walkinshaw said.

"The racing side of his development is something that's just going to continue improving as he gets more laps in the car and as he has more battles with people like this."

Chaz Mostert scored two podiums for WAU in Bathurst, and is third in the points heading to the Melbourne SuperSprint on March 21-24.

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