Really, a Ryan Wood lap record and race victory is something we’ve come to expect.
He’s been the dominant force in this year’s South Island Endurance Series Class C and D one-hour and duly won the title at Ruapuna today with his fourth straight win.
But before this weekend, we asked Wood what he would like to have to end the season.
He noted three real things: a win, a lap record and some people to race.
Today, he got all three.
Leading by an impressive margin at the halfway stage, Wood’s race was thrown on its head when the safety car was deployed.
Wood didn’t pit, and he got stuck in the ambling safety car queue.
Jarrod Owens and Marco Schelp, who were running their own race in second and third, made it to the lane.
Ultimately, Wood lost significant ground to his rivals. When he did pit, he emerged 11th in the queue for the safety car restart.
What presented was the opportunity Wood has been gunning for all season.
He deked left and right around lapped traffic and picked off a few slower cars ahead of him for position.
Up front, Schelp wrested the race lead from Owens with a slick cross-over manoeuvre that had him thread between Owens and a lapped Aaron Slight.
With ten minutes in hand, Wood had muscled his way to third and was on the tail of Owens.
He got ahead with a wild overtake that had him ride up high on a kerb before immediately setting after Schelp.
By this stage, Wood had already broken Craig Baird’s former one-hour lap record by nearly a full second, and he was rapidly catching Schelp.
The change of lead came with three minutes in hand. It was a well-judged move and one that paid enormous dividends as the race’s second safety car was deployed one lap later.
The race, and the championship, concluded under caution.
“That was one of the coolest races I’ve done in my life,” Wood said.
“It didn’t look like it was going to happen after the pitstop, but really cool.
“I knew there were going to be people who would make some mistakes at the end. So, as soon as I caught Marco I was going to make a move.”
Despite conquering everything he could in his rookie year, Wood has even more plans.
“Still a lot more we want to achieve. We keep punching on forward and hopefully get over to Australia.”
Schelp relished the battle but knew he was little match for Wood at the end of the day.
“Ryan, I just can’t fight,” he said. “He is just too quick.
“He is 17 years old, and he is just great. He is on another level.
“I’m 60 and do it for fun. I still love it and I am pretty ok at it.”
By Owens finishing third, the podium mirrored the top-three championship positions after four rounds.
Sam Collins was an impressive P4 in the MARC II V8 Mustang, which has had its fair share of reliability troubles this season.
Steve Brooks and Jack Milligan finished fifth, ahead of the Derrick boys and Jordan Michels.
Main Image: ASP