At the beginning of this year, the American Rally Association Presented by DirtFish National Championship was very lucky to have been visited by Tom Williams driving in the RC2 class in a McKenna Motorsports-run Ford Fiesta Rally2.
While he missed much of mid-season, Richard Burns’ godson was back out again at the Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally last weekend and put on one of his best showings yet – an appearance aimed squarely at showing his abilities to potential partners and sponsors for next season.
With the new rule change, I hope we'll be fighting at the top of our game, with the likes of Travis and Ken and anyone else will be at the top there.Tom Williams
Williams’ second US podium at STPR sealed his 2022 RC2 National Champion status – but it’s next year, and the hopes of a full championship challenge, that his eyes were really on.
“It’s been really nice for me just to have a whole year out here just progressing and learning all the rallies,” Williams told DirtFish. “A lot of these guys have done the rallies for the last ten years, and it’s my first season out here.
“This is my first full season in this car, with Ross [Whittock, his co-driver] and McKenna, so it’s been nice just to get the whole team together. It’s been a great year, and there’s a lot of progression going into 2023 where, of course, we want to start pushing.
“At the start of this year, we pushed quite heavily doing all three of the first rallies – well, not Sno*Drift – but we just had a lot of testing a lot of momentum.
“Of course, we’re trying to work with the budget, and we just stopped halfway through the season, and now, we’re back!
“We’re just carrying that progression into 2023 where we hope to be doing a full season in the RC2 Class.
“With the new rule change, I hope we’ll be fighting at the top of our game, with the likes of Travis and Ken and anyone else will be at the top there.”
Williams touches on a very important point there. Series regulations are changing for the O4WD class, the current top class in ARA, to pare car speeds back to a point that makes them roughly equal with the current RC2 class.
This change is being done to make the championship slightly more attainable for privateers, as well as open it up to be more enticing for international entries to come to the ARA to battle with the best in the US.
Williams and his team are lucky to be one of the few who plan to go for a national title next year that already have the right equipment and don’t need to start the next year learning something new, nor spend the off-season modifying the car to meet the new rules.
“This wasn’t the plan,” Williams said of the lucky position he’s found himself in.
“I had no idea the rules were going to change this year, so I’m very fortunate to be working constantly in this car with McKenna Motorsport and Ross, my co-driver, just developing everything.
“And of course, going into next year it’s great that this car will be more in the top end and be fighting overall with the O4WD class.
“Of course, they’ve got to detune their cars and make quite a few adjustments to make those cars fit the rules.”
That said, it’s not going to be a laid-back offseason for Williams.
“We’ve got a lot of development to do because I don’t know what the pace is going to be like between RC2 and O4WD. So I guess we just put in as much effort as we can in for the first rally and see how we get on.”
While it’s still unknown if Williams will be at LSPR to cap off the ARA season, we’re sure to see plenty more of this up-and-comer as he climbs the ranks through the ARA in years to come.