Clay Richards: Racing North
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Clay Richards: Racing North

By Shannons - 14 July 2023

Last weekend’s first round of the Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia 86 Series in Townsville was definitely an up and down weekend. Our team had high hopes coming into the weekend being the reigning winners of the street circuit from last year when we took our first win in the 86 series. 

Dad was away in the UK racing some historic touring cars ok the week leading up to the event so Rodney and I travelled up to Townsville with the trailer.

It was also great to welcome Dardi Munwurro onboard this weekend supporting us for the round. Dardi Munwurro is an specialist Aboriginal family violence service and crisis help line who supports Indigenous Australians who are struggling with mental illnesses, Domestic abuse, financial struggles and more.

Our schedule for the weekend was two practice sessions and a Qualifying on Friday, two races on Saturday and one race on Sunday. 

We started off the weekend with a bang being the fastest in the first practice session out of 34 cars. Car felt great and I was already feeling comfortable. We made a couple of setup changes for the second practice session and finished 6th. 

Qualifying was another positive session. I qualified 7th but moved up to 5th due to some penalties to some drivers in front of us. The field was so close in qualifying, if I went 0.15 quicker on my lap time I would’ve started on pole. It was still a great start to the weekend.

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Race 1 was mostly taken up by a safety car on Saturday morning. I moved up to 4th but couldn’t make many opportunities to pass but the car was handling great and we finished the race with the fastest lap. 

Race 2 was a lot more exciting. Starting from 4th due to the previous race result I got up to 2nd by the end of the first lap. That car felt really good and I was quickly catching up to the leader. I soon made a pass and got to the lead. I lead for most of the race until I got a bump in the rear which broke the exhaust, this caused a loss of power down the straights. I crossed the line in 5th but definitely could’ve won the race.

Sunday was our last race. I was starting out of 5th and got a good start to make my up to 4th by the end of the first lap. The car was feeling great and I moved up into 3rd and was chasing down the leading drivers. Unfortunately half way through the race a throttle issue put an end to our charge and I dropped back to 18th by the end of the race. 

It was a weekend of what could have been for us in Townsville. Heaps of car pace in the race but just got unlucky but there was a lot of positives at the same time. Roll on Sydney in a couple weeks time. 

Thanks everyone for the support throughout the weekend and a special thanks to my Dad and Rohan for all the hard work they’ve put in to get the car as quick as it was. Make sure you check out my review of the weekend in the video below.