He’s only 17, yet Ryan Wood is out to make a statement in his rookie South Island Endurance Series this year.
Wood is racing a first-generation Porsche 991 Cup Car in this season’s one-hour championship with the James Marshall Motorsport team.
After finishing third in this year’s Toyota 86 championship, Wood intended to head to Australia and race Porsches.
However, coronavirus-induced travel restrictions kept Wood in New Zealand.
What came about of the situation was an opportunity to race in the four-round South Island Endurance Series.
He says it is the best preparation for a potential gig in the Australian Porsche Carrera Cup or Sprint Challenge in 2022.
What that means is his main goal is to win.
“I’m a 17-year-old kid trying to make a dream a reality,” Wood told Velocity News.
“If I can’t win the South Island series then there is no point in doing Australia.”
The 991 Cup Car is significantly different to the Toyota 86.
The Porsche is left-hand drive, paddle shift and has larger tyres.
All these factors lead to a unique drive Wood has had to learn.
“[The Porsche] is basic in that you don’t have to focus on heel-and-toe.
“You don’t have to take your hands off the wheel to change gear as well because its paddle shift.
“But the speed. The Porsche is so much faster. The tyres, being bigger, feel a lot heavier. And you can’t power slide it like you could with the 86.”
Wood has done two test days in the car so far and is confident the pace he was running at can put him in race-winning contention.
“We were pretty happy with where we were at. But the biggest thing for me is about improvement.
“I am not out there to set lap records at every track but to keep improving and keep the car straight.
“Even if we get seconds or thirds we can still take positives away.”
Wood has never done an endurance race before but is excited to tackle the challenges it presents.
“It is going to be a lot different and a big learning curve,” he said.
“I’ll need to learn how to conserve a tyre and be fast over a stint. But I think I can learn off guys like Marco [Schelp] who have a lot more experience than me.”
Wood is currently in Wellington and leaves for Cromwell tomorrow ahead of this weekend’s season-opener at Highlands Motorsport Park.
Main Image: James Marshall Motorsport