Motorsport: On track for success in Indy series

By Ross MacKay

Conspicuous success in two of the six Indy Pro Series (IPS) races he contested this year has left 18-year-old New Plymouth racing driver Marc Williams eager to do more racing in the United States.

Williams, who joined fellow Kiwi drivers Scott Dixon and Wade Cunningham for a limited programme on the Indycar circuit this year, earned high praise from team boss Michael Crawford and an A+ rating from IPS technical director Butch Meyer when he breezed through his rookie test at the high-speed Kentucky Motor Speedway in May.

But it was a pair of stirring drives on the Milwaukee and Iowa ovals which really had the Americans sitting up and taking notice.

At Milwaukee, the youngster stormed through the field from 20th spot on the grid to ninth at the line, while at the brand new Iowa oval, he went from the back row of the grid (a last-minute decision to compete at the new track meant no chance to qualify) to finish a year-best eighth.

In both cases, he lapped within hundredths of a second of the times being set by the leaders and crossed the line without a mark on the car despite having raced wheel to wheel with other drivers at up to 300km/h.

The only real low point of the campaign came at the US Formula 1 meeting on the Indianapolis road course when Williams was an early retirement in the IPS support race after he collided with a spinning car on the first lap.

This put a dampener on his season because the cost of repairing the damage ate into the limited budget Williams, his New Plymouth-based father, Tony and, Scott Dixon's father, Ron, had been able to raise for the campaign.

Williams says he has team owner Michael Crawford to thank for giving him a break this year but if plans to return for a full season next year succeed, it will be with one of the larger, better-resourced teams.

"Getting with the right team is a huge part of it. Michael was great, as was Tim, my engineer, and his family who I stayed with. But it's a money thing. The bigger the team the better the resources, both in terms of the car you get to drive and the people they hire to work on it." While he was in the US, Williams did what young Kiwis the world over do when they are away from home - he stayed with friends. For that reason, he says, he'd also like to acknowledge the support and assistance he received this year from the Dixon family (Ron, Glenys and Scott), Taranaki brothers Blair and Anton Julian (who have been working with Scott Dixon since his Formula Holden days here and in Australia), and Texas-based Kiwi businessman Ken Sturrock.

Williams returned home after the Nashville round of the IPS and he, his father and Ron Dixon have been working hard on a programme to raise the necessary funds for a full season in the IPS.

They have been encouraged by the fact that there is real and genuine interest in "this new, young Kiwi" - not surprising, really, considering how well compatriots Scott Dixon and Wade Cunningham have acquitted themselves there.

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