Newcastle Supercars: Caitlin Wood enjoys bumpy ride in first GT series

Hunter driver Caitlin Wood says she would love to secure a start in the Newcastle Supercars race, but for now she is focusing on her debut season in one of the world’s elite GT series.

The 20-year-old from Tenambit is two rounds into the 2017 Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup in her Reiter Engineering GT3 Lamborghini Gallardo R-EX.

She earned the drive in the five-race sprint series after winning the female division of Reiter’s Young Stars Cup, which was held as part of the European GT4 circuit last year. She is the first Australian woman to compete at this level of GT racing and the only woman in the Sprint Cup field.

Wood and co-driver Marko Helistekangas finished a creditable 21st in the opening round at Misano in Italy and were third in the Silver Cup sub-category.

But Helistekangas ran wide in a corner during practice at the second round at Brands Hatch on May 6 and rammed the Lamborghini backwards into a fence. The team could not repair the damaged chassis for the race.

Wood is back home this week before returning to Europe for the third round at Zolder in Belgium from June 2 to 4. The final two rounds of the championship are in Budapest on August 27 and Germany’s iconic Nurburgring on September 17.

She is chasing sponsorship for the rest of the series and said there was plenty of spare space on the Lamborghini for companies to advertise.

As for the Newcastle 500 in November, Wood said she had not made any “serious” inquiries about securing a drive but had always hoped she could race in the Supercars series one day.

“I think the track looks great. It will be very interesting for not only drivers but for all the spectators. It will create some awesome racing,” Wood told the Herald.

“I haven't made any serious inquiries about racing at Newcastle as my full focus has been on my European campaign, but I am extremely interested. Racing in front of my home crowd would be something very special.”

She said stepping straight out of a GT car into a Supercar would “definitely be a challenge”.

“I only have GT experience behind me, so we would definitely have to do some testing if this were to happen as there are a few differences between the cars, but driving a V8 Supercar has always been one of my goals.” 

“I am enjoying driving in the Blancpain GT Series so much. It is quite surreal. I never thought two years ago that I would be in this position, so I am extremely grateful to Hans Reiter and everyone who has helped me along the way.

“I would love to continue working with Reiter in GT3 in the future, but we will just have to see what happens. Hopefully we can get some competitive results in Blancpain this year.”

Supercars says preliminary work on the Newcastle track will begin on Monday.

A representative said residents would see site sheds go up early next week as work starts on Wharf Road, Watt Street, Shortland Esplanade and Nobbys Road. 

Residents would receive a letter this week advising them of the work. 

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