HEREFORD race ace Lea Wood has a new target in sight as he prepares for his fourth attack on the British Touring Car Championship in 2013.
The competition has introduced a new cup - the Jack Sears Trophy - for the older S2000 cars like Wood’s ex-works Vauxhall Vectra.
S2000 cars have been a feature of the BTCC grid since 2004 but the new NGTC-spec vehicles have moved the competition on a big step.
“While the S2000 cars may no longer enjoy strict performance parity with the top NGTC machinery, we will be awarding silverware to the top S2000 finisher in each race,” said BTCC series director Alan Gow.
And Wood feels that there is a realistic chance of bagging the top prize.
“There is a trophy up for every race and, at the end of the year, whoever has won the most trophies will become the Jack Sears champion,” said Wood.
“It’s not a separate race; you are still in the same championship but all the S2000 cars go into the Jack Sears Trophy and that is what we are going to go all out to win.”
Wood and his Binz Racing team are now busy trying to find extra sponsors to give them the revenue to make an assault on the new trophy.
And the 28-year-old believes being in contention for a prize will give added value for potential backers.
“Because the BTCC have highlighted the Jack Sears Trophy, the sponsors could expect a good deal of exposure,” he said. “It will be quite prestigious so that should work in our favour.”
Wood’s experience this season which saw him make a huge improvement to finish ninth in the independent drivers’ table and 14th overall, leads him to the belief that there is even more to come in 2013.
“The NGTC cars are moving on slightly but not much so I still think we are going to be in top-10 contention, where we were last year and still getting the coverage – probably more so because we will be a frontrunner in the Jack Sears Trophy,” he said.
As the year draws to a close, he can look back with satisfaction on a season of big progress.
“Our best result was a fifth at Oulton Park but we were on for a second-place at Snetterton until the gear-box broke with three laps to go,” he said.
“We got a flying start and managed to stay in second place until lap nine then, with three laps to go, a tooth on the gear snapped and we had to retire.
“We could not risk damaging the gear-box any more because it would have been a huge expense.
“But we have gained a number of top-10 finishes.”
Wood believes that he is still improving as a driver.
“This will be our fourth season in the BTCC competition and we have done quite a bit of racing,” he said.
“There are things to learn all the time but, at a test with a big team, I was the fastest driver of the day which I was really pleased with.”
While Wood and his team are always on the look-out for new backing for what is a very expensive sport, he is grateful for the support he already receives and retains the ambition to progress.
“We get a lot of support locally - people come in to where we work and with all the media coverage it’s great – we just need to keep building on that,” he said.
“The family give me huge support, too.
“This time next year we should be looking to be lining up our next seat in a big team – that is probably where we need to be.”