Clay Richards: First round of TCR
Return to News

Clay Richards: First round of TCR

By Shannons - 14 June 2023

To say our debut in the Supercheap Auto TCR Australia series was great would be a massive understatement. It’s been a massive build up to the event with Dad and I working after hours and weekends to prepare the car and get it ready for the round at Winton Motor Raceway. It was a great opportunity to be apart of along with Melbourne Performance Centre who provided us with the Audi RS3. 

I did two test days in the car previous to the event. The first one was wet and I only did three session overall for the day. The second day was dry and we spent the day learning about the car and how it behaves. 

It was a big step going from a rear wheel drive naturally aspirated Toyota 86 to a front wheel drive turbocharged Audi RS3 but I couldn’t wait for the challenge.

The weekend layout was practice on Friday, a qualifying and race 1 on Saturday and 2 races on Sunday one of them being a reverse grid top 10. 

Our weekend started off slow with an electric power steering issue. This put me out of practice 1. Thanks to the mechanics at Melbourne Performance Centre and Dad we got it fixed in time for Practice 2. For most of practice 2 I was sitting in the top 5 until the last 5 minutes. I placed 9th for the session but was really happy with how quick I got up to speed.

Qualifying and Race 1 was on Saturday. I made a couple of mistakes in qualifying and placed 11th only 0.05 off the top 10 which would have transferred me into Qualifying 2 for the top 10. Without the mistakes I would’ve comfortably placed well inside the top 10. 

Race 1 would be 18 laps. I got a great start and maintained my position into turn 1. I had a lot of great battles throughout the race, It was tough racing as well where there was no room for error. I crossed the line in 9th, it was a great result because it would mean I would start race 2 from 2nd due to the top 10 reverse grid.

For race 2 on Sunday I was probably the most nervous I’ve ever been in a race car. Starting on the front row surrounded by drivers who had a lot more experience than me I thought I would get eaten alive by the angry pack behind. I managed to get an average start and lost a bit of ground to the leader but still held 2nd. Throughout the race I was gaining on 1st place on certain areas of the track but was never quite close enough to make an overtake. The car was quick and I crossed the line in 2nd just under one second to first place. I never thought I’d be on the podium in my first ever TCR event so it was really special. 

For the final race our grid position was based off our points from the previous two races which meant I started 6th. This race was definitely the toughest one of the weekend but I learnt from the most. After a really bad start I dropped down to 10th while challenging for some moves early in the race I put myself in some bad positions and lost a few places. Another driver overtook me and rammed into the side of the car causing a bit of steering damage. Our race would unfortunately end with 5 laps to go after a lower control arm failed which meant I had no steering. It was a race of what could have been but overall it was a fantastic weekend.

Our little team definitely exceeded our own expectations throughout the weekend. We did a lot of learning and also had a lot of fun. 

Our next time back in a race car will be in the Toyota 86 for the first round of the Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia 86 Series in Townsville Queensland. After our last time out in Townsville I’m feeling confident we can get another good result there. 

Special thanks to Shannons Insurance, Penrite, Mike Bailey from KMB Motorsport and Melbourne Performance Centre for the support throughout the weekend.