31 Jan 2019
Although Lea Wood beat Pickup Truck title rival Scott Bourne in the first two races of the Brands Hatch finale, third place in race two was still enough to give Bourne his title.
After being first and fourth in the two qualifying sessions, Wood started the opening race of the weekend from third on the grid, due to the reverse grid system, but was already up to second on the opening lap, before ousting early leader David O’Regan. But only 0.488 secs covered the top three, with O’Regan having to defend from Lee Rogers. “It was a real battle to get to the front though,” said Wood.
The lead duo managed to break clear, but were still locked together. O’Regan was back in front after five laps and although Wood retook again a lap later the gap remained at just over 0.5 secs, with Wood the victor, as Bourne slipped to fifth. “David got by on the Cooper Straight, but we were so close, that I was able to retake him into Druids. I just couldn’t shake him off though,” said the Hereford driver.
In the second race Wood was into fourth as they exited Graham Hill Bend on the opening lap, but quickly became embroiled in a huge scrap, which enabled the lead trio to escape. “The BTRA Trucks had been on track before us and made it very greasy, so I made sure I was very careful, but it was a hectic first lap,” he added.
It became any one from four, but by the end of lap six Wood was down to sixth place, “ I knew I needed to up my game after Lee Rogers had spun right in front of me losing more time,” he explained. All 23 Pickups barrelled into Paddock Hill Bend for the 16th time and Bourne had challenged O’Regan for second place and both ran wide after a slight touch and Wood exited Druids in third place, which became second when with Paul Tompkins spun at Cascades.
The last three laps were tremendously close, with Wood keeping Bourne & O’Regan at bay to battle it out themselves, but that was enough to settle the title in Bourne’s favour.“I decided to go defensive and was just trying to back Bourne up to David O’Regan,” he said.
Any hopes of a second win were soon dashed in the third and final race of the weekend and the final one of the season. As the field plunged out of Paddock Hill Bend on the opening lap, Mark Willis spun and Wood was forced to drive through the gravel trap in avoidance.
The safety car was out for the clean-up, but Wood was back on, last place on the road with a daunting recovery. By lap nine he was back in the top 10 and continued to close in, snatching eighth from Dale Gent on the last lap, consolidating his second place in this years championship.
“Overall the season has been great for me. I am pleased to finish second, but not winning the title is obviously a slight disappointment. The blown engine when I was leading at Snetterton was our turning point, without that circumstances would have been a lot different,” he concluded.