Wood's on-track prowess product of sim racing with current stars

27 Jun
Virtual Supercar racing catalyst for title hopeful Wood
3 mins by James Pavey
Meet the Dunlop Series Grid: Ryan Wood

Following his breakthrough performance in the Dunlop Super2 Series at the Bosch Power Tools Perth SuperSprint, Walkinshaw Andretti United phenom Ryan Wood has attributed his on-track performance to hours sim racing alongside the current protagonists in the Repco Supercars Championship.

The 20-year old has taken the Dunlop Series by storm early in 2023, taking a pole position at the season opening Thrifty Newcastle 500 and following it up by sweeping the weekend’s races in Perth in late April.

What really caught the attention of onlookers and competitors in Perth was the way Wood won those races, with aggressive, decisive moves to get to the front, showing race craft and confidence well beyond his years.

As to where that race craft comes from? When away from his No. 2 ZB Commodore, Wood spends plenty of time behind the virtual wheel of a Supercar, where he often races with the likes of Supercars frontrunners Shane van Gisbergen and Brodie Kostecki.

“To be honest, I do a lot of sim racing with (Shane) and Brodie, and it kind of all correlates a wee bit,” the New Zealander said. “Like, just racing all the time with them helps you understand the way they race and their style, so it kind of translates to the way we race in real life.”

“You just kind of have to be a bit more precise (in real life), because the consequences are a little bit bigger than just hitting the reset button.”

“But it’s a really good way of keeping race fit and really understanding how to place the car in different situations. So, yeah, I think that's how I got most of that.”

A self-inflicted DNF in Newcastle has Wood sitting just sixth in the championship as the series heads to the NTI Townsville 500 next weekend, but the Kiwi has quickly established himself as one of the elite talents in the development series.

Wood’s raw speed and aggressive nature have already earned him comparisons to the likes of Kostecki and van Gisbergen, and have quickly thrust the Kiwi into the silly season conversation.


Speculation has mounted in recent weeks of Wood stepping up to a full-time seat in the Repco Supercars Championship, perhaps as soon as next year.

While he holds strong aspirations of joining the Supercars grid, Wood is training his attention first on next weekend’s event in Townsville, where the Dunlop Series will hold two races.

“For me it's just focusing on the next round, and just taking it step by step,” he said.

“It (speculation regarding 2024) has all moved pretty quickly, so for me, it's just enjoying it and keeping my head down and focusing on what the task ahead is.”

“Obviously the goal is to get to main game one day. I'm not sure when that is, but you know, if there's an opportunity next year, I'd love to take it with both hands.”

The NTI Townsville 500 is the sixth event on the 2023 Repco Supercars Championship calendar, and the third of the current Dunlop Series campaign.

The visit to Townsville also marks a milestone for the Dunlop Series, the 150th round in series history.

Cars hit the track in Townsville from Friday, July 7, with two races scheduled over the weekend on the street circuit at Reid Park.

Anderson Motorsport’s Zak Best leads the Dunlop Super2 Series standings by 48 points over Cooper Murray, while Wood sits just 114 points back in sixth.

The battle for the Dunlop Super3 Series lead is fierce, with Jobe Stewart leading Cameron McLeod as the pair have swapped wins each race. Third generation driver Jett Johnson is third in the Super3 standings through the first two rounds of the year.

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