Wellington karter and Toyota 86 racer Ryan Wood has come up trumps in the latest KartSport New Zealand Giltrap Group & Carter’s Tyre Service-backed ‘Virtual Club Day.’
After enduring a race-long battle with ex-Toyota Racing Series ace and 2017 Formula Masters Asia champion Taylor Cockerton, Wood capitalised on a rare mistake which saw Cockerton collide with the wall, gifting a victory to his rival.
Racing the Radical SR8 sportscar on the iRacing platform, a grid of 20 lined up for a 31-lapper around the characterful Charlotte Speedway Roval circuit.
Starting from pole position, Wood got the better jump off the line, leaving Cockerton to fend off three-time New Zealand Superbike champion Sloan Frost in the opening lap.
Behind the leaders Ben Stewart was the first victim of the narrow walls of Charlotte. Tagged by Frost at the start, Stewart was sent spinning into the outside wall. Though he was able to wrestle his wounded car back to pitlane, eventually finishing the race in 12th.
As the early race chaos began to settle Cockerton proved to be the faster of the leading duo.
Seeking a way by, Cockerton made his move on his sixth tour. Though importantly Wood never let Cockerton establish a comfortable margin, remaining with the leader until making his first pitstop on lap 8.
Christchurch-based drifter Corey Ross was impressive in race’s early stages. Maintaining the final podium position, Ross defended valiantly against the more experienced racers behind.
Unfortunately, Ross got unstuck at turn one on lap 9, spinning himself into the wall and ruling out a strong finish.
Cockerton looked impregnable up front as the race worn on, building out a 20-plus second margin over Wood after he completed his final stop.
But on the 23rd lap the timing boards showed a changed for the lead, with Wood being promoted ahead of Cockerton. Moments later it became clear that the 22-year-old had indeed found the wall, sustaining significant damage that forced him to pit.
The incident allowed Wood cruise to an unrivalled victory. While behind, an ensuing battle for the podium involving South Island Rotax Max category racer Jack McLaren and Frost.
But a mistake by McLaren, straight lining the chicane on the final lap, promoted Frost into second.
Corey Green and Billy Frazer rounded off the top five, with TraNZam racer Stuart Bovey finishing an impressive sixth.
One of the more decorated drivers in the field, three-time Porsche Carrera Cup Asia Champion Chris van der Drift finished the event in tenth.
After losing the lead late in the race, Cockerton managed to finish the race down in 15th.