Image courtesy of Axel Weichert

Tom Wood: Attacking on two fronts

2023 has been a busy year for the majority of our Walero athletes as they strive for success around the world, but one season in particular has stood out more than others, and that is the one of Tom Wood and his dual campaign across Europe!

Tom has been part of our athlete roster since 2018 and comes from a humble and hardworking background of racing. His relationship with Walero stems from his time spent racing in the European GT4 series with our Founder and CEO, Fiona James! From that moment on, Tom has become a likeable and dedicated member of the Walero family so we sat down with him to discuss the standout memories from a 2023 season that has certainly seen him impress on and off the track.

“2023 has been an incredibly busy year for myself and getting the opportunity to race around both the UK and Europe this season has been an unforgettable experience! My main programme this year has been the ADAC GT4 series with FK Performance Motorsport and that has definitely been intense to say the least.”

“It was a new car and new team for me this year, getting the opportunity to drive the brand new BMW M4 GT4 has been an awesome experience, but also a challenging one,” he recalls. “We went into the season with a lot still to figure out with the car due to it being so new, but the team have been incredible in helping out at every step of the way.”

Tom’s season has seen him racing amongst the very best GT talent that Europe has to offer, alongside teammate, Moh Ritson. The ADAC GT4 series is highly regarded for its competitive nature and Tom definitely experienced this throughout this year’s campaign.

Image courtesy of Axel Weichert

“Yeah it’s been an intense season, we would come into each weekend just looking to maximise the knowledge we had to gain with the car. Friday would be spent purely dialling it in and then we would give it our best shot in qualifying. We did struggle in qualifying this year simply due to the characteristics of the car, but once it got the race, we were loving every moment of it!”

With each weekend that passed in the championship, Tom and Moh’s performance would steadily improve as their knowledge and understanding of the car grew. But it was last weekend at the Sachsenring, where they would strike the jackpot, with an impressive qualifying performance which was converted into a hard fought third place finish at the fall of the chequered flag on Sunday afternoon!

“Last weekend at the Sachsenring was unforgettable and definitely the highlight of the season for me at least. We did well in qualifying, so it was all about using the pace that we knew was there in the race to battle it out. I ended up going from P11 to P2 in one stint which was phenomenal and Moh did a fantastic job on worn tires to keep it going till the end!”

“It felt like we had finally rewarded the team for all their hard work at the previous rounds and to experience being on the podium with the massive crowd that had gathered for the weekend was a surreal experience.”

Image courtesy of Axel Weichert

With one round to go in the ADAC GT4 championship, Tom and Moh remain in high spirits as they look to round out the season on a high.

“Myself and Moh are feeling great coming into the final round of the season and it has been a season to remember for us both. It’s been great having a fellow Brit in the team with me and I feel like our relationship as a driver pairing is really evolving and I’m thankful to call him my friend and teammate now. I’ve also been coaching him and helping him out each weekend, and it has been great to see how far he has come as a driver this season!”

Alongside Tom’s full season in ADAC GT4, he has been driving full-time for Team Derby Motorsport in the Radical SR1 Championship around some of the UK’s most iconic tracks. Tom and the team have certainly made a name for themselves amongst the paddock, holding their own against some of the UK’s top teams with a ‘shoestring budget’! It also represented Tom’s first paid driving opportunity and this is one he is eternally grateful for.

“To get the chance to race full-time with such an amazing group of people has been another brilliant experience in 2023. It was my dream to be able to get where I am today and the University of Derby gave me such a unique opportunity to get involved with a project that not many others can match!”

“It has been a very up and down year for us in the championship, even though we remain in P2, we could have been really challenging for the championship which is a bitter pill to swallow. But having the opportunity to work with the students and team them with the ins and outs of motorsport has been great.”

Image courtesy of Ayrton Smith

Alongside his role as driver for the team, Tom also undertakes a more educational role in the programme, assisting the young and budding mechanics with the understanding of the attention to detail that is needed to operate successfully in the world of motorsport. A privilege that he looks very fondly upon.

“I always go into each weekend with a professional mindset and I try to instil this into the students that I am working with. I feel it provides that extra motivation and passion that they need to push on in the industry, with the level being super super high. I teach the students a variety of skills from the debrief techniques we use in ADAC to the best way to understand the feedback I am giving them with relation to the car. It has been challenging at times, but it has been rewarding to see them grow and develop!”

This season has seen the plucky Team Derby outfit battling it out at the front of the field at each passing round, testament to not only Tom’s excellent driving ability but also the hard work of the team of students who take part in the University programme. Tom and the team have collected multiple wins and podiums, but due to the unfortunate mechanical gremlins, the championship sits just out of their reach.

“We have definitely held our own this year amongst the very best teams of the Radical championship and to be battling it out at the front shows just how far we have come together. Now the team is disappointed if we don;t manage to grab first, so I feel that the professional mindset that I have taught them has really turned them from a team of students that are there to have fun, to an actual professional race team that has the skill set to challenge at the front!”

Image courtesy of Radical UK

Overall this year has been fantastic for Tom from racing in Europe to nurturing a team of students into a professional racing outfit, he can definitely look back on his accomplishments in 2023 fondly.