27 March 2024 | News

Clay Richards Talks TCR and ‘Taking it as it Comes’

Clay Richards has quickly risen to prominence in the Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series, with the 23-year-old finding comfort in his surroundings at the Melbourne Performance Centre run Carl Cox Motorsport team.

The third-generation racer has already delivered two runner-up finishes since making his debut at Winton just over 12 months ago. In that time Richards has gone racing in an Audi RS3 TCR, a Peugeot 308 TCR and finally the Cupra Leon Competicion he drives for Carl Cox Motorsport.

“The Cupra is similar in a lot of ways to the first generation Audi, but it’s different enough to be its own car and the Cupra is heaps of fun to drive,” said Richards.

“It can be tough jumping from one round to another in a different car, so I’m feeling a lot better with that familiarity between rounds and I’m learning heaps with every lap in the car.”

AWC Race Tasmania marked the first time Richards entered a round with the same team and car as his last appearance. That experience paid off, culminating in a spectacular charge from eighth on the grid in race three to finish in second.

“I wasn’t really expecting to be at the pointy end this early in my TCR career, even my first round at Winton was a big surprise for me. I’m just taking it as it comes and doing the best I can to drive the car.

“At the moment qualifying is probably our biggest weak spot so if we can sort that out then hopefully we’ll be able to fight at the front even more. I’ve missed out on Q2 by less than a tenth of second a couple times already, so the aim will be to progress into that session soon.”

The Cupra is run by the highly experienced squad at Melbourne Performance Centre, but it’s a familiar voice on the radio with five-time Bathurst 1000 winner Steven Richards coaching his son through all the high-pressure moments.

“We get a lot of help from MPC with setup, data and vision. They give us an extra guy on the weekends to help out with running the car as well. Dad is very hands on with most of the stuff though.

“I’m really getting along with the team, just soaking it all in and enjoying leaning on the experience they’ve got. Of course, a lot of those guys won the series in 2021 and know what it takes to win.”

Richards has also found comradery amongst the tightknit group in TCR Australia.

“I get along really well with a lot of the drivers, it’s definitely gloves off on the track but it’s pretty good to catch up and chat about the race afterwards.

“There’s no doubt it’s one of the most competitive series in Australia, and I think the last race at Symmons Plains proved that,” concluded Richards.

Round three for the 2024 Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series takes place at Phillip Island from April 12-14 as part of the Shannons SpeedSeries.

All races from the 2024 season can be viewed on demand via 7plus, while all the action is also covered live on the Seven Network.