Double European GT4 Podium for Tom Wood at Brands Hatch

May 7, 2019
Brands Hatch GP

Tom Wood and Fiona James took a brilliant double podium finish for Academy Motorsport at Brands Hatch in the European GT4 Series.

The historic Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit hosted the second round of the GT4 European Series. Being the only british round of the campaign, Tom was looking forward to racing on a circuit he had familiarised himself with in previous seasons in British GT and Ginetta Juniors. Tom would have two free practices before qualifying later that day and then two races on Sunday.

Free Practice 1 and 2 were incredibly strong for Tom with him topping the time sheets in FP1 by nearly 2 tenths of a second. With a few interruptions in FP2, Tom still posted a lap good enough for p6. Both practices were dry but with rain due in time for Qualifying, things were going to get interesting…

Rain did in fact come just before qualifying leaving the track a little damp, although with it drying very quickly - the team took a gamble on the first session (which Tom’s teammate Fiona would take part in). Fiona soon put an impressive time in good enough for P12 overall, although with the track drying, the gamble of going on wet tyres was looking bleak. Fiona then pitted for brand new slicks. With 35 cars out on track squabbling for space, Fiona got massively held up and ended the session in a disappointing P27.

Tom was one of the favourites for pole for his part in the Pro Qualifying session. As soon as he managed to get out for his warm up lap, a red flag was shown to stop the session due to an incident out on track. Tom then tried again to bring the tyres up to temperature and to set a banker lap with a thick black cloud looming. Tom pushed for half a lap but realised that the tyres weren’t up to temperature. With too much traffic getting in the way, Tom decided to back off to go for another push lap with 10 mins still left. When Tom came around to start his next lap the red flag came out once more, only this time the session would not be restarted. Tom ended the session in 26th place.

Fortunately, Sunday was a much drier day and with the sun shining, Fiona hit the grid ready for Race 1. The start was a lot less chaotic than anticipated. Fiona held her position around the first few corners and then gained one when the CMR Alpine had an off. A handful of laps later Fiona made a move up the inside for 25th position at Surtees past the Generation AMR Aston Martin.
A lap later she then made her move for 24th around the outside of the McLaren at Hawthorns. With 10 mins to go in her stint, the safety car was deployed due to the 66 Bullet Mercedes having a hard crash. Losing out on the restart, Fiona dropped to 25th again when she came in to hand the car over to Tom.

After a great pitstop, Tom went back out in 21st place and immediately started making moves up the order, first making a brave move back past the Generation AMR Aston at Hawthorns. Over the next 15 mins, Tom made moves past 6 more cars making his way up to the back of the battle for 10th place. Tom bided his time behind the Schewde Mercedes when he made his move round the outside into Graham Hill corner for 13th place overall. Just one lap after Tom made his move up the inside on the same corner on the 33 Bullet Mercedes for 12th place and 3rd in class. A car In front then received a drive through penalty, promoting Tom to 11th. For the final 5 mins of the race, Tom was chasing the Ekris BMW of Ricardo Van Der Ende, but struggling with tyre wear Tom was forced to settle for 11th overall, but an amazing 3rd in Pro Am.

Tom started the 2nd race in 21st due to 5 cars getting penalised for track limits abuse. On the first lap alone, Tom gained 5 places pushing him up the order to 16th. On the back of the Reiter KTM, Tom made a move with him on the Mercedes. The very same lap, Tom made a bold move into Surtees on the Porsche Cayman for 14th place. On a mission, over the next 20mins Tom made his way past 6 more cars pushing him up to 8th place overall, leading his class by a country mile.

Tom stayed out for as long as possible in his stint and with cars in front pitting, Tom found himself in 4th overall, catching the 3rd place Street Art Aston Martin. After their best pitstop of the weekend, Fiona went back out in 8th place. Struggling with tyre wear she bravely fought until the end bringing the car home in 15th place but more importantly another Pro-Am podium.

Tom Wood “I’m over the moon that we managed to get not just one but two podiums this weekend. The car felt fantastic all weekend. A massive thanks to the team for their hard work and dedication. Thank you also to everyone that came here to support me. Now it’s time for preparation for Paul Ricard in 3 weeks time!”

The next round of the European GT4 Series will place at Le Castellet, Paul Ricard on the 31st May - 2nd June.