After finishing as the runner-up in the 2022 TC America Powered by Skip Barber Racing championship, MINI JCW Team driver Clayton Williams only had sights for the top step this time around in 2023.
With five wins and six podium finishes under his belt this season, he had a success-filled year that saw him challenge for the championship TC Class title all the way to the final round. However, it did not come without its fair share of adversity, as only 9 points separated him from the Vice Champion.
“We've had some great races this season, and our two wins at Circuit Of The Americas definitely stand out,” said Clayton Williams. “COTA was a turning point for us. An early issue dropped us back in the first race, and I was faced with the challenge of charging back through the field to take home the win. It was an amazing way to secure our first win of the season, and to back it up with another victory was even better.”
This marked the moment Williams took over the top of the championship standings, but he was kept on his toes by Jeff Ricca, 2022’s TC Champion, across each and every round.
“Jeff Ricca and I had a very close battle in Race Two at Road America,” Wiliams added. “He was right on my bumper throughout the entire race, and it was definitely one of the most difficult and intense rounds of the year.”
The two remained neck and neck leading into the final round at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and Williams remained acutely aware of the fact that there was no room for error in order to clinch the title.
“It was a super important weekend for us,” he explained. “We needed no mistakes, mechanical issues, or anything of the sort. We just needed to finish in Top 3 with some solid points to bring home the driver’s championship. In Race 1, we were in a great spot running towards the front of the pack and everything looked like it was aligning for us to lock in the title. However, a gear issue on the final lap dropped us down the running order and we ended up finishing seventh.”
Instead of dwelling on the heartbreak, Williams and the team used the setback as further motivation to come back stronger in the next and final race. A high-intensity showdown would be the ultimate championship decider, and they needed flawless execution, and that is exactly what transpired.
“I felt so much relief when I crossed the finish line and was told I was the Driver’s Champion,” he expressed. “I was carrying a lot of stress from the day before and it was amazing to allow the winning feeling to finally sink in. There was so much hard work involved to get to this point and I couldn't be more thankful to everyone at LAP Motorsports. They have given me so much and I'll be forever thankful to them and my family. I wouldn't be who I am today without them. I’ve had the privilege to work with a lot of amazing partners this season and I can't thank them enough for their trust in me. I’m super excited to see what's in store for 2024!”