The picturesque circuit on the Adriatic coast of Italy hosted the 4th round of the European GT4 Series Championship. The grid consisted of 33 cars. Although smaller than previously, it was no less competitive.
Before the weekend even started there was a problem. Tom’s teammate, Fiona James, was not going to be able to take part due to health issues. Tom got to the circuit on Thursday afternoon still not knowing who his teammate was going to be. It was announced later that evening that Micah Stanley, one of Academy Motorsports drivers for competing in British GT, was to join him. This was to be a silver/silver pairing as appose to the pro/am partnership Tom is normally in. Micah does have some European GT4 experience from a few years ago, so it was looking like a strong pairing for the weekend ahead.
In practice, Tom showed extremely strong pace both in the morning and afternoon sessions. In the morning Tom posted a time good enough for P4, even though he was held up by over half a second by another car. In the afternoon session, Tom went out on old tyres to save the new ones for the next round. He was 10th quickest, which showed immense pace in the car against people on new tyres.
Qualifying was a hard session for Tom and Micah. Micah took part in Q1 and got held up by traffic so his lap was only good enough for P15. Tom struggled in Q2 to get the tyres to work. He posted a time good enough for P10 but felt as though he could go faster. The full course yellow then was deployed for a stricken car. Tom then went for another lap but couldn’t go any faster so stayed in P10 overall.
Hopes were high for Race 1. Micah was to start and was hoping to claw his way up the field. He made a great start overtaking two cars as the grid rolled into turns 4,5 and 6. The BMW in front ran wide so he took full advantage. As he made the move the BMW unexpectedly turned straight into him, spinning him around across the kerb and into the path of 20 other cars that were behind him. Thankfully, they all avoided him. Micah fell to 33rd and last.
Trying to catch the field back up, he set the fastest first sector of anyone but then had warnings warning of the gearbox over-heating. He was then forced to come into the pits as the car went into safety mode and the team decided it was best to retire the car due to the damaged caused by the incident. A sad start to the weekend.
Race 2 was the only hope for the team to get a decent result. Tom got an excellent start jumping straight up to P9. He made the move for P8 around turn 3 and then for P6 into the tight turn 4 but Tom made a mature decision to back out of the move as the MDM BMW was starting to turn in on him. Over the next 10 minutes he easily stayed with the lead group.
With just over 15 mins left in Tom’s stint, Tom made a very brave move around the outside around the fast kinks in the final sector on the Ginetta. The move stuck and he began to pull away. A few laps later, with tom trying his best to save the tyres in the sweltering 30- degree heat, the Ginetta was able to get back passed Tom and pull away, dragging the two Mercedes’ into the fight in the process.
With 5 mins left Tom was hanging on in P6 (as the Ginetta just in front had been forced to retire). He managed to fend off both Mercedes before the pitstops which proved to be crucial. Tom and Micah made a brilliant stop, gaining time on the lead pack. Struggling massively with tyre wear, Micah did a great job to hold his own in P6 for so long. But with just 3 mins to go, the 777 Mercedes behind managed to out turn him onto the main straight gaining the place. Nevertheless, Micah brought the car home in P7 and P5 in class along with being first Aston Martin home.
Tom Wood “I’m satisfied with the result in race 2. To be honest I think it’s the best result we could’ve got as I think the BOP wasn’t really in our favour this week.
A massive thanks to the team for giving me an amazing car, and thanks for dealing with the huge challenges they faced. Regardless, I really enjoyed the week, the circuit, weather and surroundings have been something very special.
I’d like to say a massive thanks to the team for their unbelievably hard work this weekend, Micah for being a great teammate and my parents for the sacrifices they have made and the work they have put in for me. On to Zandvoort in just two weeks!”