Wood seals maiden round victory as Grove takes Pro-Am at Phillip Island
DALE Wood withstood 25-laps of sustained pressure at the Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit to seal his maiden Porsche Wilson Security Carrera Cup Australia round victory, while Stephen Grove became the third winner from three rounds in the TAG Heuer Pro-Am class.
Starting from pole thanks to his victory in race one, Wood erupted into an early lead in today's second race in his Sonic Motor Racing prepared entry.
He and Alex Davison then engaged in a thrilling race-long battle for the lead that saw the pair separated by a car length for the duration, in a captivating battle.
Davison, who needed to win the race to take the round victory, made several attempts at snatching away from Wood however all proved futile.
The double Phillip Island victory helped Wood clinch his maiden Porsche Wilson Security Carrera Cup Australia round victory, closed him to within just 17 points of Jaxon Evans in the championship standings and also saw him take an early lead in the Enduro Cup standings in the process.
Pole and two victories delivered a perfect weekend for the former Supercars full-timer, who is contesting his first full Carrera Cup season in 2018.
"That is one of the most rewarding weekends I think I've ever had," Wood said, having clinched his sixth race win of the season.
"To get pole was good. Yesterday's race was tough because the car wasn't that good but today, I thought the car was really good - and so was Alex (Davison). We were battling hard but we both had pretty good cars.
"The pressure was massive. I think it helped bringing Supercars experience where you're often doing that for 70 laps with someone on your bumper. It was a bloody fun race!"
Davison finished second overall, while his Ash Seward Motorsport teammate Dylan O'Keeffe finished third for the second time in two races - scoring the final spot on the round podium and also maintaining his third position in the standings.
Championship leader Jaxon Evans was fourth for the second time in two races, while James Moffat charged from 13th position to fifth in a storming drive aboard his Wall Racing entry.
An ill Michael Almond preserved to finish sixth with David Wall seventh, Josh Hunt eighth, Peter Major ninth and Nick McBride tenth.
Almond's teammate Jordan Love had ran strongly in the early stages however ultimately failed to finish after his Sonic entry suffered damage.
Evans now leads the championship by just 17 points ahead of the next round at Hidden Valley Raceway in Darwin. Wood is second, while Dylan O'Keeffe holds third. Defending champion David Wall remains fourth, 109 points from leader Evans.
Grove's path to victory in the TAG Heuer Pro-Am class was not easy, after a series of dramas removed the contenders who locked out the podium in race one.
Race 1 winner Max Twigg was knocked to the back of the field in an incident at turn four, while Anthony Gilbertson - who had finished a season-best second in the Phillip Island opener - was also caught up in another incident and had to pit for repairs.
With the early contenders out of the way, Grove and Adrian Flack battled for the class victory, ultimately finishing just 0.3 seconds apart.
Grove became the third winner from as many TAG Heuer Pro-Am rounds this year, while Flack was a career-best second in class this weekend.
"I wasn't quite happy with qualy but third yesterday was good, solid," Grove said.
"To come and win a race that is worth 90 points, rather than 60, was pretty special. This is a pretty daunting track - you've got to be on it so it's a great result."
John Steffensen posted his best class result of the season with third in race two, while Roger Lago was another contender to strike issues after being pushed off the road earlier in the race. He recovered to fourth, which gave him enough points to secure the final spot on the round.
Lago continues to lead the TAG Heuer Pro-Am standings after three rounds, holding a 43-point margin over Grove ahead of the next round in Darwin. Adrian Flack's superb performance saw him move to third in the standings ahead of Max Twigg and Dean Cook.
Following a busy start to the season, the Porsche Wilson Security Carrera Cup Australia Championship teams and drivers will now enjoy an eight-week break before the next round, to be held at the Hidden Valley circuit in Darwin on 15-17 June.
Results - Race 2, Phillip Island
1 Dale Wood (Pro) 25 42:04.3
2 Alex Davison (Pro) 25 42:04.7
3 Dylan O'Keeffe (Pro) 25 42:07.6
4 Jaxon Evans (Pro) 25 42:09.2
5 James Moffat (Pro) 25 42:10.9
6 Michael Almond (Pro) 25 42:14.7
7 David Wall (Pro) 25 42:15.1
8 Josh Hunt (Pro) 25 42:30.6
9 Peter Major (Pro) 25 42:30.7
10 Nick McBride (Pro) 25 42:31.6
11 Adam Garwood (Pro) 25 42:32.6
12 Stephen Grove (TAG Heuer Pro-Am) 25 42:33.8
13 Adrian Flack (TAG Heuer Pro-Am) 25 42:34.1
14 John Steffensen (TAG Heuer Pro-Am) 25 42:48.4
15 Roger Lago (TAG Heuer Pro-Am) 25 42:48.7
16 Indiran Padayachee (TAG Heuer Pro-Am) 25 43:27.9
17 Dean Cook (TAG Heuer Pro-Am) 25 43:30.7
18 Marc Cini (TAG Heuer Pro-Am) 25 43:37.2
19 Graham Williams (TAG Heuer Pro-Am) 25 43:37.8
20 Anthony Gilbertson (TAG Heuer Pro-Am) 23 43:32.3
DNF Jordan Love (Pro) 23 39:19.2
DNF Max Twigg (TAG Heuer Pro-Am) 16 28:53.7
DNF Cameron Hill (Pro) 11 20:33.0
DNF Sam Shahin (TAG Heuer Pro-Am) 3 04:57.1
DNF Tim Miles (TAG Heuer Pro-Am) 3 04:57.5
Standings - Outright
1. Jaxon Evans 468
2. Dale Wood 451
3. Dylan O'Keeffe 377
4. David Wall 359
5. Jordan Love 275
6. Michael Almond 266
7. James Moffat 265
8. Alex Davison 233
9. Nick McBride 192
10. Pete Major 166
Standings - TAG Heuer Pro-Am
1. Roger Lago 446
2. Stephen Grove 403
3. Adrian Flack 339
4. Max Twigg 328
5. Dean Cook 286
6. Tim Miles 274
7. Anthony Gilbertson 229
8. Indiran Padayachee 213
9. Sam Shahin 200
10. Marc Cini 199