Wood-Scott Racing - V8 Supercars – Snetterton, May 13-14

The Snetterton weekend – the first two races in the embryonic V8 Supercars series – actually started five days earlier for Steve, Stuart, and the Jaguar-bodied V8Star. A late change of teams, to Neil Bainbridge’s BS Motorsport, saw them hire the Silverstone Stowe circuit for three hours on Monday, for an evaluation session. “We came away with a job list on an A4 sheet of paper,” said Steve, “and Neil and the team worked through into the early hours every night, and finally delivered the car to the track on Friday for testing. They have made so much progress in just one week.”

Still retained, though, was that F1-style safety-cell driving-seat module, though with some modifications, as Stuart explained; “The seat was based around Ellen Lohr, who originally drove the car, and we found our knees were rubbing on the sides. Grand Prix Racewear took a mould of our backsides – we’re much the same, apparently – and made a custom seat to fit in the module.”

After just an hour of testing on Friday, Steve guessed that the car could do a 1:11, and, after Stuart’s initial stint in Saturday’s 30-minute qualifying session, Steve posted a 1:11.687, third on the grid behind Peter Seldon’s BMW M3 GTR, and Adam Sharpe’s Ford Falcon. “It wasn’t exactly busy out there, but we didn’t really know what we were up against. We knew the Falcon would be quick, though – they, and Seldon’s car, have got about 650bhp, and we’ve only got 500,” said Steve.

Going into the race, the aim at this stage was to finish, and enjoy the event. There was intermittent rain around the allotted start time, and the Jaguar was shod with intermediate tyres on all four wheels. The advice from Dunlop, however, was for full wets on the front, though, with hindsight, Steve felt the original plan might have been better.

Steve took the wheel for the first 30-minute race, and initially ran second behind Seldon’s BMW, but by the second lap, had to give best to the power of Sharpe’s Falcon.

An early safety-car period bunched the field up, but, once the caution was lifted, Steve had a lonely race, finishing third. “I couldn’t keep up with Seldon and Sharpe, so I concentrated on keeping it consistent,” he explained, adding, “I could see Seldon was struggling for grip as the track dried out, and, if I could have had one more lap, I would have caught him.” True, for Steve was just under two seconds shy at the flag.

Sunday morning’s warm up saw Steve back in for what he described as a “scrappy”session; “We tried out a few things on brake bias. We were the fastest out there.”

Come the final 30-minute race, it was again Steve behind the wheel, the team deciding to maximise the data collection on a consistent basis through the weekend, and leaving Stuart free to host CBT clients, his guests for the weekend. The V8 Supercars rules – in fact, just about the only rule – determine that the grid for the second race is based on the reversed result of the first race, so, with Seldon withdrawing owing to oil pipe failure, and Sharpe starting from the pitlane, Steve shared the back row with Tim Hood’s TVR Sagaris, which had missed the first race thanks to engine failure. Hood was away at the green light, and went on to a convincing win, but Sharpe’s Falcon succumbed to a puncture towards the end of the race, leaving Steve to take second place at the flag.

“I was looking to finish,“ he said. “We used old rubber, but suffered a rear tyre issue towards the end. It was a battle to get past the three Tuscans, and Darren Dowling was particularly strong at the start. That Sagaris is a bit of a worry, though – it’s fast straight out of the box.”

So, reflections on the weekend, then?

“We were pleased to be there,” said Stuart, “the positions were unimportant, the car proved to be reliable, and created a lot of interest.”

Steve felt much the same; “The podiums weren’t important, we were more pleased to be there at the finish, in a new car, with a new team. This is a brilliant concept. We were in the very first Britcar race, here at Snetterton, four years ago, and look how it is now. James Tucker has made a success of everything else, so he won’t fail with V8 Supercars”.
(the other) Steve Wood


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