Ryan Wood’s Start Struggles: Can He Overcome this Achilles’ Heel in his Repco Supercars Championship Debut?
It’s no secret that Ryan Wood is a force to be reckoned with on the race track. Fast, confident, and uncompromising, he has quickly made a name for himself in the world of motorsports. However, there is one aspect of his racing skills that he’s been working tirelessly to improve: his starts.
Wood, a 20-year-old racing prodigy, has already achieved remarkable success in his career. In just three racing rounds in Supercars equipment, all in the Super2 category, he secured a promotion to the main game with Walkinshaw Andretti United for the 2024 season. Impressive indeed.
Throughout his Super2 journey, Wood showcased his talent, claiming four pole positions and five victories. However, despite his achievements, he found himself finishing third in the standings behind Kai Allen and Zak Best. It was a bitter pill to swallow for Wood, but it only fueled his determination to reach new heights.
Many believe that Wood is the breath of fresh air that Walkinshaw Andretti United needs to reclaim its position among the elite teams in Supercars. But he knows that he can’t afford to make life harder for himself next season, as he has often done with his slow getaways.
Wood admits that starts have been his Achilles’ heel throughout his Porsche Sprint Challenge and Super2 tenures. Despite his undeniable skills behind the wheel, he hasn’t been able to convert his pole positions into commanding leads after the first turn.
“I feel like I’ve taken a step forward but it’s still not my strong point,” Wood confessed after sweeping the Super2 finale in Adelaide. “It does make my job a lot harder because I don’t think I’ve converted a pole to leading out of Turn 1 and it was the same when I raced the Porsche.”
Wood is well aware that his starts can make or break his races. In the highly competitive world of Supercars, where every second counts, a sluggish start can mean finding yourself at the rear of the field. It’s a situation he wants to avoid at all costs.
The young Kiwi racer has tried everything to address his start struggles. Working with his team, they have analyzed and fine-tuned every aspect, from his nerves to the setup of his clutch. Yet, the solution eludes him.
“It’s obviously a problem with myself, and I don’t know what else to do,” Wood expressed, clearly frustrated. “We’ve run through stuff, I don’t know if it’s just nerves or something to do with myself or how my clutch is set up, I have no clue.”
With his Repco Supercars Championship debut on the horizon, Wood knows that he must overcome this obstacle to make a lasting impression. The main game is filled with seasoned veterans who have mastered the art of a perfect start. If he wants to compete at their level, he needs to make significant progress in this area.
Wood’s determination to improve is admirable. It was evident in his last Super2 race in Adelaide, where losing the lead at the start ignited a fire within him. In a daring move, he executed a bold overtake on Zak Best into the final corner of the first lap, setting him up for one final Super2 victory.
“It was pretty aggressive, but Zak cut the first chicane, which was pretty ordinary driving by himself, to be honest,” Wood explained, revealing his fierce competitive spirit. “So I was pretty fired up because it was probably my best start of the year. I really wanted to lead out of Turn 1. That’s why I was fired up. It worked in my favor at the last corner, and I just punched on.”
Wood’s journey doesn’t come without its unique challenges. Unlike many rookies before him, he will be going full-time in the Repco Supercars Championship without even having an enduro co-drive under his belt. It’s a daunting prospect, but Wood is ready to embrace the opportunity and prove himself on the biggest stage.
As Wood prepares for the upcoming season, he knows that improving his starts will be a focal point. With countless hours of practice and a determined mindset, he hopes to turn this weakness into a strength. The young racer is eager to prove that he has what it takes to thrive in the high-pressure environment of the Repco Supercars Championship.
Only time will tell if Wood can conquer his start struggles and make a name for himself among the Supercars elite. As anticipation builds for the upcoming season, motorsport enthusiasts worldwide will be eagerly watching to see if Ryan Wood can rise above his Achilles’ heel and establish himself as a true contender in the Repco Supercars Championship.