The optimism was running high at the start of the weekend for the penultimate round of the 2018 British GT championship for the Scannervision and Donington Park backed driver. Brands Hatch GP had been suited to the Aston Martin GT4’s characteristics in the past, an example being when Tom’s teammate Jan won exactly a year ago.
FP1 and FP2 were great opportunities for Tom to get a feel for what the car felt like over one flying lap and also over a longer stint for the race. Tom was P3 in the 2nd practice even though he was held up on his best lap by passing GT3’s. He was in a very positive mindset for qualifying later on that day describing the car as ‘perfect’.
Lap 1 of the 4-lap qualifying Tom cleverly backed off for a clear space for a push lap. On lap 2 he set purple sector 1 and was flying. But on the last corner a slowing Mercedes got in the way and cost Tom 3 tenths of a second. Even so this put Tom on pole for the time being, although in the coming laps the two Century Motorsport BMW’s went faster to demote Tom to P3. In the Pro qualifying, in which Jan was taking part in, the BMW’s were P1 and P2 with Jan putting in a lap good enough for P3; crucially on the inside of the grid for the start of the two-hour race.
It was set to be a very tough race; the air temperature was over 30 degrees and the track temperature was 55 degrees! Inside the cockpits of the cars the drivers would be exposed to temperatures over 50 degrees C for over 1 hour!
Tom got a great start to the race and at turn 2 he followed
the 42 BMW round the outside and got into 2nd place although at turn
4 he got boxed with slow GT3’s and got hung out to dry and slipped down to P4.
Over the next 30 mins the positions stayed the same as the high-speed game of chess got underway!
The top 5 were desperately trying to conserve their tyres so they had something to fight with in the latter stages of their stint. With 25 minutes of Tom’s stint left, a big crash on the start finish straight brought the safety car out. This time was very mentally tough for Tom, as he had time to think about the scorching heat inside the car.
With 10 minutes left
until the pit window opened the safety car came in and racing commenced once
again.Tom made a great restart being right on the back of the Tolman McLaren
and dropping his teammate in 5th place.
Tom decisively made his move for 3rd place into one of the fastest corners on the track, Dingle Dell. The pit window had opened but with Tom still setting consistently fast lap times, he was left out and therefore claimed the lead with just over 50 minutes of the race left to go.
Tom made his pitstop after an hour and 10
minutes in the 50-degree car. Unfortunately, when the pitstop was made, the
minimum pit time was breached by just 7 tenths of a second, meaning that Jan
had to serve a stop and go penalty and give up 6th position on the
Just two laps later whilst trying to make the time back up again a brake failure meant that Jan had to make a further two pitstops in quick succession, putting them out of points contention.
Tom Wood “I’m gutted to be honest. Everyone struggled with the temperatures today and I was no different. Nevertheless, I’m happy that I got the car up to 3rd place, and I’m happy that the cars pace has been one of the fastest out there. I’m looking forward to finishing at my home race at Donington in 7 weeks’ time.”
The final round of the 2018 British GT Championship heads to Donington Park on the 22-23 September, for Tom's home race on the final day of the season.