THREE more solid finishes at the fourth Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship meeting of the year at Oulton Park has underlined Hereford driver Lea Wood's belief that his team is heading in a positive direction.

After carrying off the competition's Jack Sears Trophy last year, Wood made the step up to an NGTC (Next Generation Touring Car) with the Houseman Racing Toyota Avensis.

But, with the car, which was built from a basic shell in just six weeks and completed only hours before the first meeting at Brands Hatch in April, it's clearly going to take Wood some time to get to know the capabilities of his new ride.

"It's been a superb start to the year," he said.

"To think that we built that car from scratch and got it out on the Friday night before the first meeting and overcame so many issues.

"To be able to be running and running on the edge of the pack is just a brilliant job and a credit to the boys.

"It's brilliant to be in there challenging the big boys. Obviously we have to find a few more tweaks in the car to get us up to the sharp end and in qualifying as well.

"But we are definitely knocking on the back door now.

"But I do think that if I can spend a bit more time in the car then I can get more out of it."

The attractive surroundings of Oulton Park have usually inspired Wood.

"Oulton Park is one of my favourite places although they are using the longer track this year, so I'm not quite used to that," he said.

"It's the best track for me and I love it."

Wet weather during Saturday's qualifying session made things challenging for all the drivers but Wood showed a steady improvement.

"Qualifying was good and we found a lot more pace in the car but so did everybody else," he said. "They were tricky conditions and we got ourselves up to 23rd because we were hovering around 26th but we had a red flag and we ran out of time."

Wood ran on soft tyres in the first race and was able to hold his position, moving up one spot to 22nd place.

The second race proved Wood's best outing of the day and he moved up to 17th place.

A torrential downpour in the lead-up to the third race saw completely changed conditions for Wood's final outing of the day.

But things began well as he moved up to 11th place for a couple of laps before a brief 'off' at the chicane cost him a couple of spots and gradually other drivers reeled him in, too, as he eventually finished in 19th place.

"I still think that we can get a lot more out of the car and there is a lot more from me to come as well - we need to see if we can find a bit more sponsorship, with a bit more money to do a bit more testing," he said.

"We've done all right with sponsorship this time, it's never easy but we have some great sponsors on board and they have been a brilliant help to us.

"The bottom line is that it's all about the money and how much money that you can throw at it."