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Wood claims thrilling opening day of Porsche Michelin Sprint Challenge

Porsche Michelin Junior Ryan Wood has taken out a thrilling pair of victories in the opening round of the 2022 Porsche Michelin Sprint Challenge Series at Sydney Motorsport Park, capping off a remarkable day for the young New Zealander.

Brett Boulton and Sam Shahin shared the wins in the Morris Finance Pro-Am class after great battles in both races, while Tom Taplin dominated the two races in Class B.

Wood passed and edged away from polesitter Tom Sargent in the season-opening Jim Richards Enduro Trophy race that kicked off proceedings, however it was his race two victory that was the undisputed highlight of the day.

Tegra Australia’s Tom Sargent bolted from second in race two and led in the run to turn one, while fellow Michelin Junior Courtney Prince vaulted from third up to second.

After starting from pole, Wood dropped back to third before quickly getting by Prince.

The Team Porsche NZ / EBM driver then went after Sargent in what turned out to be a brilliant battle for the top spot.

Wood was applying the pressure as Sargent locked up his left front tyre on two occasions into turn six.

Wood pestered Sargent on the last lap and gathered an overlap coming out of the last turn.

Sargent was hung out wide as the pair went either side of lap traffic – Sargent had to take to the grass, while Wood drove down the inside of the track and snatched away the lead in the run to the line.

Wood claimed the win by 1.2 seconds while it was a case of wrong place, wrong time for Sargent who crossed the line second.

Prince finished third followed by Jason Miller and Aron Shields to complete the top five.

Boulton held off Shahin after a race long battle for Morris Finance Pro-Am class honours.

Shahin started one row higher than Boulton, but it was Boulton who would later gain track position.

Shahin was sideways at one point coming off the back of Corporate Hill, but didn’t have the pace to get by Boulton who claimed victory by 0.8 seconds.

Andrew Goldie was third as Christian Fitzgerald and Indiran Padayachee completed the top five.

Despite almost going off at turn two during the middle portion of the race, Tom Taplin finished 11th outright and winner in the Class B field.

Race one doubled as the Jim Richards Endurance Trophy over 24-laps.

Just like the later race, Wood started off pole but Sargent got the better traction off the start line and led the field through turn one.

Lachlan Bloxsom jumped to third after starting fourth while Prince was the biggest mover off the line, going from ninth to fourth.

Sargent and Wood cleared out from the rest of the field, building an eight second margin.

The field was brought under the control of the safety car on lap 12 when Bloxsom went off at turn three and was stuck in the sand trap.

Wood capitalised on the safety car restart on cold tyres Michelin tyres and ran around the outside of Sargent through turn four before he finally cleared Sargent off turn five.

Further back Maddie Stewart was running in sixth before she was turned around at turn four, dropping back to 17th by races end.

Wood proved to be too strong, claiming the win by five seconds. Sargent held off Prince in the battle for second while Shields and Miller completed the top five.

Having earlier qualified third outright and starting as first in his class, Shahin held track position over his rivals in in Morris Finance Pro-Am.

He would go on to win in class by five seconds over Boulton. Goldie was third followed by Padayachee and Fitzgerald completing the top five.

Taplin proved to be too strong in Class B, going on to win from pole. Jacob Li was second as Gerard Murphy finished third.

The field return for one final race on Sunday at Sydney Motorsport Park.

“I had to really work for that one, that start was terrible again, I need to tune that up,” said Wood.

“I’m just really, really appreciative. Tom made a few little mistakes and that last lap was so hectic I’ve never been in something like that before and he got really unlucky with the lapped car. It is a shame for him, but that’s what we expected today with such a wide spread of times throughout the grid. Really stoked to take another win and it was a really good battle.”

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