Wood dominates Sandown opener, Best extends lead

Dunlop Series
16 Sep
Kiwi celebrates main game promotion with dominant Sandown win
  • Click here for Race 1 results

  • Wood dominates after losing lead at Turn 1 to Best

  • Best denies Bates for second, Allen recovers to fourth after being 10th

  • McLeod suffers last lap failure to shake up Super3 title fight

Ryan Wood has celebrated his main game promotion with Walkinshaw Andretti United with a crushing victory in the Penrite Oil Sandown 500 opener.

Wood recovered from a robust move by a fast-starting Zak Best to run away to victory by 5.8s, with series leader Best hanging onto second.

Best was forced to deny a racy Zach Bates, who was attempting to complete a WAU one-two.

Highlights: Race 1 2023 Dunlop Series Sandown

Kai Allen came home a distant fourth, some 14.5s from the win, with Best extending his Super2 series lead 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. Cooper Murray dropped from third to fourth, having recovered to seventh after starting 24th.

Zane Morse came home fifth, avoiding penalty over an early-race collision with Aaron Love at Turn 9. Love ran off the track, and was classified 16th of 26 runners.

Wood regains lead from fast-starting Best

There was late drama for runaway Super3 leader Cameron McLeod, meanwhile, with his #92 Altima crawling to a stop on the back straight on the final lap as he ran an impressive sixth.

“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 completed 31 laps.

“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."

Best powered to the lead through Turn 1, with Love, who started second, also challenging Wood. Best held Love out wide, with Wood rounding Best up for the lead into Turn 2.

From there, WAU’s Kiwi star was unchallenged, at one stage leading by seven seconds before cruising home to take season victory No. 3.

Love off at Turn 9 after robust Morse move

Cameron Crick was adjudged to have jumped the start, and was reclassified 11th with a five-second penalty. It wasn’t the only penalty, with Brad Vaughan and Jett Johnson hit with time penalties over collisions.

As Wood raced away, Best had to look in his mirrors as second-generation racer Bates hurried along the #17 Ford for second.

All the while, Allen, who will make his Great Race debut next month, recovered to fourth after starting eighth. At one stage, Allen was as low as 10th.

Best has 882 points to Allen’s 798, with Wood third on 747, 135 points from the lead. Murray is fourth, 171 points behind Best.

There was a significant swing in Super3 thanks to two Johnson penalties and McLeod’s DNF, with Stewart initially 126 points clear of Johnson, with McLeod 153 points behind. Johnson was handed a post-race 30-point penalty and a $1500 fine over a parc ferme breach.

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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