Academy driver Williams flies the flag at Nations Rally Guanajuato
Motorsport UK Academy driver Tom Williams flew the British flag at Nations Rally Guanajuato earlier this month, tackling the same stages seen on WRC Rally Mexico.
Williams and co-driver Ross Whittock took on the 16 stages in a Ford Fiesta Rally3 and finished tenth overall. Fellow Britons Matthew Wilson and Stuart Loudon came through in fourth as Great Britain ended as the fifth best nation.
Motorsport UK caught up with Williams on the competition and the role the Motorsport UK Academy played in best preparing him for the Mexican stages.
Tell us about the significance of the event and why it was important for you to be there?
This event was called Rally of the Nations, which was previously the WRC round for Mexico. However, this year, due to COVID-19, it had been postponed. Mexico wanted to put on a show to make sure it gains a slot next year in the WRC by running this rally in an Olympic style. Each team was split country by country as pairs of drivers. There was a big variation in cars so there was a points system to ensure everyone was fairly equal in their cars. I was representing Great Britain alongside Matthew Wilson.
It was a big international event with over 10 different nations competing with ex-World Champion drivers as well as current WRC drivers in top machinery. This made it a highly competitive event.
What was the most challenging stage and why?
The Saturday afternoon stages were hugely challenging as the heat was at its peak that time in the day in Mexico. This caused everything to melt, even my race boots within the rally car.
The high altitude also took a toll on the car as well as my body.
You rented your competition vehicle, what was it, what made it tick and how did you find it?
Matthew Wilson [the other British representative] and I were in cars run by McKenna Motorsport. They are an American rally team and I had the opportunity to drive the brand new M-Sport Rally 3 car. This is the newest stepping stone car to make your way up the rally ladder.
The car was fantastic to drive and very enjoyable on such an extreme rally. We had to manage the car very carefully in the heat to not overcook the engine and the brakes. Otherwise, everything else worked very well.
What skillsets had you taken from the Motorsport UK Academy and applied in Mexico?
I definitely think the Porsche training came into account here as the rally was very demanding on the body causing you to lose focus in the extreme cockpit heat and high altitude.
I felt much more prepared as well as being able to recover from the big jet lag which also caused fatigue.
What has been the most important takeaway from your participation in the Academy?
I took a lot away from the team building exercises as I am at the start of a new relationship with my co driver Ross Whittock, who is a past member of the Academy. So these skills really helped us gel together quickly so we could navigate fast on a very tricky rally.
Where can we see you next?
You can see me next on the Olympus Rally in the USA which will be the third round of the American Rally Championship.
About the Motorsport UK Academy
The Motorsport UK Academy is a performance pathway for motorsport’s talented young athletes providing the UK’s future stars with opportunities to learn, develop, thrive, and ultimately unlock their full potential.
Over the years, the Motorsport UK Academy has supported hundreds of young drivers in their quest to be the best, with stars such as Lando Norris, Tom Ingram and Elfyn Evans amongst the Academy alumni.
Across the Academy programmes, expert coaches, partners, and staff all work together towards a shared vision of identifying and supporting talented athletes on their motorsport journey, effectively preparing them for the world of high-performance motorsport and beyond. What makes the Academy unique, is that it provides these programmes independently at no financial cost to the athlete, and with no vested commercial interest. The only goal is developing the sport’s best talent.
Whilst only a handful of drivers will compete at the highest level, the Academy makes sure that each of its 100+ athletes leave the programme having developed their full potential and enjoyed their experience. It is hoped that each driver will then want to remain a part of the sport for many years to come, be it as a competitor, volunteer, or part of a team.