GLEN WOOD AND KTM ON CHINA GT PODIUM ON DEBUT
22 May 2017
Text/Photos: Motorsport Media
China GT Championship – Goldenport, Beijing, China
12-13 May, 2017
M-Motorsport’s Glen Wood made his China GT Championship debut at Beijing’s Goldenport Motor Park, joining the Xtreme Motorsport team in the #86 KTM X-Bow GT4 alongside Hong Kong driver Chen Yinian, the duo claiming a pair of second placed finishes from the first two 60-minute races of the season.
Arriving in Beijing mid-week with M-Motorsport team boss Justin McMillan, the team were soon at the circuit and underway with pre-event testing, Wood admitting he enjoyed the 2.9-kilometre 12-turn Goldenport layout despite limited knowledge of the Chinese circuit.
“It’s tight, it suits us pretty well, but sadly our BoP has almost crippled the car, we’re on the limit everywhere to stay in touch with the McLaren and the Astons,” Wood admitted.
With assistance from an engineering team from Reiter Engineering HQ in Germany along with the knowledge the Australian team brought to the program from their impressive debuts at the Bathurst 12-Hour and the opening round of the 2017 Australian GT Trophy series, the mighty 2-litre turbo KTM quickly asserted itself as one to watch.
Qualifying netted a third placed start for the #86 KTM with the overall qualifying time a combination of the two drivers, Wood amongst the fastest GT4 drivers, whilst the relatively inexperienced Yinian – a Drift star – was taking time to settle into the X-Bow, but the team were ready to use that to their advantage in the two 60-minute races.
Off the start of the opening race Yinian settled into a comfortable rhythm with the first stanza of the race ahead of the compulsory pit stop riddled with safety car interventions.
That allowed the team to pit within striking distance of the leaders, and whilst the pole-sitting McLaren had their star circulate longer and gain significant ground on the second-placed KTM, Wood very quickly reduced the deficit as their amateur driver jumped behind the wheel.
Within ten minutes of the chequered flag, Wood was through to the lead and doing what he could to eke out a bigger advantage, but within sight of the flag, a wayward Lamborghini Super Trofeo in the GTC class suffered a ‘tank slapper’ in front of the KTM driver, leaving Wood in full avoidance mode and with nowhere to go.
That allowed the McLaren to close back in, the twin-turbo V8 British machine out-dragging the KTM on the run down the back straight to regain the top spot, and from there Wood was forced to settle for second place.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Wood admitted afterwards. “I went left, he [Lamborghini] went left, I went right, he went right, I know it wasn’t intentional, because he had no idea I was there, but that was game over, all that work to build a lead on the McLaren was gone. Anyway, we have a second qualifier and a second race, so let’s see what we can do then.”
Qualifying again saw the KTM second, although this time there was nothing separating them from pole-sitters McLaren, the difference between them after the combined times were through, just five one hundredths of a second!
Yinian again started the KTM whilst McLaren’s star Roelof Bruins was behind the wheel and ahead of the pit stops, almost a lap up on the Chinese KTM driver.
After the stop Wood charged, locking in under the rear wing of as many GTC cars as he could in an effort to extract as much performance from the car as possible.
A late safety car intervention helped Wood’s progress and despite pushing at sometimes two seconds a lap faster than the McLaren, the Australian driver fell short by just over four seconds at the flag.
“That was all I had, I just wished I’d had the opportunity to go a couple more laps and return the favour from yesterday,” Wood lamented on the podium.
“We’ve had a fantastic weekend,” Justin McMillan added. “I’m tempted to bring my third KTM up here to join the team, it’s been fantastic. It’s nice to compete within a strong field of cars, and to do something different to what we’ve spent years doing in Australia. China GT is only new, but you can see the beginnings of something huge, so we’d dearly like to be a part of it, and are already planning our attack on the McLaren for round two!