HEREFORD ace Lea Wood finished his British Pickup Racing Championship debut season in the runners-up spot after a hotly-contested series.

The 32-year-old secured the most race wins and podium finishes overall – five and 11 respectively.

However, he paid the price for having an engine problem in the first meeting of the season at Brands Hatch, which forced him out of a race.

Wood ended with 93 points, behind Freddie Lee, whose consistency throughout the season was rewarded with the championship.

Lee had a trouble-free campaign until the last race at Brands Hatch last weekend when his pickup developed an alternator problem but, by that stage, he already been confirmed as champion.

Reflecting on his campaign, Wood said the fact he hadn’t previously raced at the Rockingham Oval circuit had a big bearing on the championship.

Having recorded two fastest laps and led a race at Rockingham, Wood now feels comfortable at the venue and ready to contest next year’s championship.

“I was reeling in the gap between Freddie Lee and me right up to the last meeting,” said Lea, a Morris Lubricants Racing ambassador.

“If he had failed to finish one of the races earlier the season, then I would have been in with a shout.

“The only thing that let me down was the first race of the season at Brands Hatch where I had engine problems – a cracked cylinder block, which was blowing the water pipe off. Had I finished in the top 10 in that race instead of failing to finish, I would have won the championship.

“My aim was to become champion but that was going to be a tough challenge, having never raced at the Rockingham Oval before, but I’m really pleased to have come second.”

He added: “It’s a very competitive and well run championship and everyone knows exactly what is going on. I would definitely like to go out and win the championship next year but first I have to talk to the sponsors and weigh up all the options.”

Wood made his name in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, winning the Jack Sears Trophy in 2013.

The Hereford star praised the JWT Performance team for making his Ford Ranger competitive all season after the first race engine problems.