Racing at the world famous Monza circuit for the opening round of the European GT4 Championship was something many 17 year olds dream about, but Tom took it in his stride and was ever ready for the first of the two 1 hour races that lay ahead. 37 cars were on the grid, with the best of the best of GT4 racing taking part. Tom had time to learn the circuit before the races started on Saturday with practice sessions on both Thursday and Friday.
Free practice on Thursday and Friday were mixed, with Thursday being very wet and Friday being fairly dry but cold. Tom showed brilliant pace throughout, with him posting a time good enough for 4th in the last session on Thursday. Testing in the dry was productive, trying to get the most out of the brand new Aston Martin Vantage GT4 round the corners, due to a tricky Balance Of Performance. Tom ended the session one of the fastest drivers that were on old tyres.
Qualifying was a 20- minute session, instead of the 10 minutes Tom was used to in the British GT Championship, posting a time good enough for 17th in the Pro qualifying. Toms teammate, Fiona James, fell foul to 2 red flags not being able to get a proper lap in the Am qualifying and would start 33rd for the 2nd race.
Race 1 saw Tom make a great initial getaway with the Aston Martins turbos pulling him from P17 through to P12 straight away ,going into the infamous right left chicane of the first corner.
Tom managed to get drive round the outside of the best placed Aston getting up to 11th before Turn 2. Tom then got in the slipstream of one of the KTMs where again he made his favourite move to the outside.
In doing this he made a lunge at the 2nd apex of the 2nd chicane up the inside of another KTM making a brilliant move for 9th overall. Tom then made a move at the last corner on Andy Meyrick but soon was repassed down the straight by the Mercedes GT.
Things then settled down and as the stint began coming to a close the tricky BOP was beginning to take its toll. He was passed by the KTM which he overtook at the start and then by the reigning GT4 World Champions in the French Alpine. However, Tom fought back and made a stunning move around the outside at the first corner.
The safety car was then deployed due to an incident further back in the field. Tom's stint then ended and it was time to hand over to Fiona.
A little mistake in the pitstop cost the pair dearly dropping them back to 20th. Fiona did a great job by setting personal best times and hung on for 25 mins to finish 25th and 9th in the Pro AM class.
The 2nd race was in torrential rain on the Sunday. Starting 33rd on the grid, Fiona was ready to gain some places. At the start she carved her way through 5 cars to get the car up to 28th place overall. The stint was heavily broken up by the much-anticipated safety cars.
When Fiona came for the driver change the car was still in 28th place. 1 lap into Toms stint he unfortunately had to serve a drive through for an incident under the safety car in the previous stint. When Tom came back out he was still in the same position.
Determined, he set some blistering laps that matched the leaders (2 seconds quicker than any other Aston Martin). He bravely picked off 3 cars (one at the last corner, and two at Ascari), with one being on the very last lap of the race to rescue a 21st position overall.
Tom Wood “I have thoroughly enjoyed this weekend. Racing at the #Temple of Speed’ is a dream come true and to be as fast as we were against some of the best drivers in the GT racing scene is thrilling. I’m so proud of the team staying up working late nights to give Fiona and I the best car possible under us.
Big thanks to my AMR Academy mentors Andrew Watson and Charlie Eastwood for the great tips pre-race and to Ross Taylor my race engineer. I’m very much looking forward to Brands Hatch in two weeks time as it is a circuit I go well around and I think it will suit the new Aston Martin Vantage GT4.”
Tom will next be in action at Brands Hatch for Races 3-4 of the championship on the 4-5 May.