Car problems but Wood optimistic ahead of Donington

Hereford Times: Chris Wynne (5018975) Chris Wynne (5018975)

LEA Wood and his Houseman Racing team found plenty of grounds for optimism despite a frustrating first MSA Dunlop British Touring Car Championship weekend at Brands Hatch.

After limited time behind the wheel of his new Toyota Avensis, it was always likely that the championship's opening round would be a steep learning curve for Wood and his team.

In the free practice session last Saturday, Wood worked on bringing down his lap time to take 24th place on the 30-car grid for the first race on Sunday morning.

But clutch problems ultimately required a pit-lane start although the car completed the race in a creditable 22nd place, and still on the lead lap, a fine achievement on Brands Hatch's short ‘Indy’ layout.

Continuing problems required a second pit-lane start in the second race, but Wood and his team were able to continue gathering data before a final-lap steering-column breakage ended the 29-year-old's race just short of the finish line.

The third and final race of the weekend proved a disappointment as Wood was forced to retire early with a problem with the rear of the car and the ongoing clutch problem.

Nevertheless, the team left the Kent circuit with renewed optimism for the season ahead.

“Given the lack of running we had in the new car, this weekend was always going to be something of a glorified test session," said Wood.

"With that in mind, I’m pleased to have completed two race distances and brought the car home in one piece. The lap times were competitive too, so there’s definitely reason to be optimistic.

“I’d like to say a big thank you to my sponsors, supporters and the whole Houseman Racing team for a great effort this weekend.

"We can now head to Donington with a lot to be positive about and hopefully start getting the most out of the Avensis.”

The next of the 10 rounds of racing takes place at Donington Park on Easter weekend, April 19/20 before moving on to Thruxton for the first weekend in May.

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