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Why Wood’s best Bathurst 1000 was his worst

YOU might think the best Bathurst 1000 result of Dale Wood’s career might rank pretty highly among his favourite memories.

Think again.

In a compelling Part 2 of his V8 Sleuth Podcast episode, Wood details his rollercoaster four full seasons in the main game.

The first two of those came at Brad Jones Racing before a 2016 move to Kelly Racing.

When it became clear that Simona De Silvestro was set to take his seat there, Wood struck a two-year deal starting 2017 with Erebus Motorsport.

Central to that was his friendship with Erebus boss Barry Ryan, the pair often going motorcycling together.

At a two-car team for the first time and in a rebuilding organisation, things were looking up for Wood… only for it to all quickly fall apart.

“2017 I would say, the worst year for me personally of my life,” Wood told host Aaron Noonan.

“I probably hit a rock bottom that I didn’t know existed.”

Wood says he was promised a new car that never came, and constantly found his 2013-built VF Commodore to be “numb”.

The catalyst for an early heated exchange was a new front upright that was only developed for the sister car of David Reynolds.

“A new car wasn’t coming for me,” Wood recalled.

“They’d developed a new upright on Dave’s car, it was quite good and it moved Dave a long way forward and he was having success.

“There’s nothing harder than when your teammate is having great success and you’re really, really struggling.

“I remember sitting down saying, ‘Baz I want these uprights’ and him turning around to me – and I had one of my sponsors come in at the same time to kind of mediate, just to get everything together – and Baz goes, ‘listen, we reckon the uprights are worth two tenths a lap’.

“I never really took anything from that statement; I have pulled it apart a lot since.

“I don’t know how somebody can put a figure of two tenths; is that around Tassie? Is that around Bathurst? How do you put a value on that? Without getting into the guts of it, it pissed me off, and we weren’t going to get them.

“He was like, ‘until we start to see better consistency and better this (and that), you’re not going to get those uprights’.

“So there was lots of things there for me going, ‘I am not getting the opportunity that I want to get here’.”

MORE: When Wood inadvertently earbashed Ross Stone

Dale Wood will co-drive for BJR again in 2023. Pic: Brad Jones Racing

By the Sandown 500, there had been irreversible damage to the Wood/Ryan relationship.

“Barry and I had a massive blue in his office the Wednesday night I think it was of the Sandown 500,” said Wood.

“The relationship was gone then, irretrievable, it was no good. It was very difficult to perform.

“I was with (Chris) Pither for the Sandown 500 and he had a great co-driver race, made up a lot of spaces, I made up a whole lot of spaces, and we started fifth or something like that for the Sandown 500 and finished reasonably strong.

“But the relationship was properly gone at this point.”

From the outside looking in, the Bathurst 1000 was an ultimate highpoint for everyone at Erebus, with Reynolds/Luke Youlden winning and Wood/Pither taking fourth.

It sure didn’t feel that way for Wood.

“The stupid thing is, Bathurst was a pretty good result – Dave won, I finished fourth,” he said.

“(It was) the worst Bathurst 1000 ever for me.

“I absolutely hated it… I pretty much wanted to do nothing other than cry, I was rock bottom.

“The tensions between myself and Barry were unbelievable, they were so high. We couldn’t speak, he had nothing to say to me after the race and rightfully so, I didn’t really have anything to say to him.”

Soon enough, Wood was officially on the outer, with Anton De Pasquale taking over the #99 seat for 2018.

Now a Brad Jones Racing co-driver and Porsche Carrera Cup Australia regular, Wood is at peace – even if his Ryan relationship has yet to be mended.

Wood is set to share the #8 R&J Batteries Camaro with Andre Heimgartner in this year’s Repco Supercars Championship enduros, including for what will be his 16th Bathurst 1000 start.

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