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Wood-Scott Racing – British GT Championship
Rounds One and Two – Donington Park

Last year the season started for Wood-Scott Racing at Knockhill, in a bright yellow VW Golf Gti, but the 2004 opener began with the boys gathered around the immaculately (Jordan-Warnock Racing) prepared Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, in the end garage at Donington Park.

This race weekend would have it all – unpredictable weather, a packed grid, drama, race leading driving and disappointment. What a start to the year, for Steve Wood and Stuart Scott.

New for 2004 is a race format which sees each weekend hosting a double-header: Practice, Qualifying and Race One on Saturday and Race Two on Sunday.

Qualifying is now a ‘double-header’ too, with each driver getting 15 minutes in the car, in separate sessions. The first qualifying session dictated both the grid and the starting drivers for the first race and the second….well, you get the idea!

With the Porsche running quickly and reliably hopes were high for a good run – It was a bumper entry of 31 cars, with the majority (18) competing in the dailysportscar.com Cup Class. After the opening, 90 minute, free practice session, Stuart and Steve were all set for the rest of the meeting: new brakes bedded in, tyres scrubbed, everything in place.

The first qualifying session would see Steve posting a time quick enough for seventh on the grid for race one with Stuart posting 11th quickest in a second session, which started dry, rained and then dried immediately again – the pit crew earned their beer money in those 15 minutes.

Race 1

Now this would be a cracker. With tyre choice critical on a greasy surface that could (or even should!) have dried quickly, it was wets for Steve in the #77 car - and from the off it paid off in a big way. With incident (and accidents), ahead he stormed through the field to get up to second in class (from seventh remember!) on the very first lap. The leading car in the class, the very yellow DRM Ferrari, was just a couple of seconds ahead and struggling on slick tyres, on a track that wasn’t drying nearly as quickly as it had 24 hours before.

Steve just went away after that, leading the class and climbing well into the overall top ten - and humbling many of the fire-breathing N-GT runners at the same time. This was a fantastic start to the season.

After 20 minutes however the track was suddenly developing a pronounced dry line and the wet-shod #77 car was suffering as a result: Gavan Kershaw’s rapid little Lotus was closing the Porsche down. Wets were now very much not the tyre of choice and with the pit stop ‘window’ still several minutes away, the Lotus powered away.

25 minutes gone and the Porsche’s wets were finished, the car pitted and the JWR team went into action. Slick tyres and Stuart were installed and #77 fishtailed back into the fray. The race win was no longer in prospect however: the cars which had started on slicks and bided their time had made hay whilst the sun began to shine.

It was an eventful run for Stuart with the Porsche seeming to have a supernatural effect on Chevrolet Corvettes!

“First the Cup Class car (The Jensen Motorsports Corvette) lost a wheel right in front of me at the chicane and then one of the N-GT ‘Vettes spun in front of me through the Craner curves!”

At the flag Stuart brought the car home eighth in class, mildly disappointed but my, my, the #77 car had shown some pace. Better things are in prospect during the season for sure.

Race 2

In dry conditions, Sunday’s race would be a dogfight and with a busy track and some very quick men out there (and a couple of very quick ladies too!) the gameplan would be a steady run in the first phase of the race and for Steve to attack in the second half.

The plan came together very well indeed, Stuart keeping the bulk of the Cup Class field in his sights and allowing Steve to have a good run at them after another slick driver change by the JWR team.

Steve picked off car after car and was looking set for a blast that might even have troubled the podium…. if he hadn’t come across the oil dropped by an expiring Peninsula TVR, at Coppice, which sent the Porsche backwards through the gravel.

“There were no oil flags,” he said ruefully, “I’m a bit annoyed, because I reckon we would have finished much better than sixth.”

Team leader Mike Jordan met the same oil, getting his Porsche sideways but finding the time to notice Steve’s car and even think, “Yup, he’s going to be able to drive out of that gravel trap.” Which he did of course.

But sixth it was and that was a fine result for a pairing very new to the Porsche 911 in this company. They’d made their mark already, with that race leading performance in the first race.

So a good start to the season and with many positive signs for the races to come: the choice to swap Golf for Porsche was the right one, and the 911 is providing much satisfaction for the two drivers. The decision to take the car to JWR seems inspired.

“The team was just magnificent all weekend,” said a beaming Stuart Scott later.

It’s Mondello Park next time out: can the crew of #77 get more points on the board in Ireland?

 

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