Toyota 86 CareVets scholarship recipient Ryan Wood is set to bow out his debut car racing season at the revised season-finale from Hampton Downs in September and is already eyeing a drive in the popular one-make series next year.
2020 marks Wood’s first major promotion from karting into the realm of car racing. A multiple New Zealand karting champion, Wood boasts an impressive CV with state-level championships at home and in Australia, as well as victory in the Junior class in Rotax MAX Challenge back in 2017.
His Karting achievements have seen the budding teen race internationally in Europe and South America.
But like many aspiring karters, the switch to cars is a pivotal career step for any driver, and one Wood admits did come with its initial hurdles.
“The transition wasn’t too difficult but just learning a different racing style and having to focus on a lot more with gear changes and heel and toe was a lot different,” said Wood. “The spatial awareness of other cars was quite different as well.”
Wood currently sits tenth in the 86 standings, one of many drivers inside the top 10 capable of snaring a few more positions with some strong results in the final round.
But despite that elusive maiden podium still missing from his results card, Wood has had a strong debut season with nine top-10 finishes including a fastest lap at Teretonga in January.
But with the end nigh on his first season, Wood says another opportunity to contest the 86 series and further nurture his talent is the ultimate aim, with potential endurance and NZTA2 drives in the pipeline.
“I think we showed great pace, but our race results didn’t convert,” Wood added.
“We’re hoping to have a great end to the season at Hampton downs. I would love to race 86s again and do the One Hour endurance series which would be cool for a different type of racing.
“So, we’re looking down the pathway of either endurance racing in NZ or something like TA2 depending on what budget we can put together.
“I will also still be enjoying my karting to keep race fit and stay competitive in that aspect as well as helping out younger generations and trying to give back.”
The Toyota 86 season-finale will have three races across September 4-6 from Hampton Downs Motorsport Park to crown a new series champion.