It was the first victory for a Brazilian driver in TC America, and we’re talking about Celso Neto, who won the final race of the year at the temple of world motorsport, Indianapolis, the famous track in the USA. The driver of the Honda Skip Barber HPD Civic Type-R car with the number 07 dominated the weekend in the TC category and finally clinched the victory after 8 podium finishes throughout the season.
He finished the championship in third place, an achievement never before reached by a Brazilian driver. “It was an amazing weekend. In Saturday’s race, we led until we encountered backmarkers, when a driver spun in front of me and took us out on the track, narrowly missing victory. But on Sunday, we started in fourth place, took the lead, and finally secured the first win,” said Neto.
This victory marked another historic moment in his motorsport career. The talented Brazilian driver, who has been residing in Florida since the age of 5, showcased his skill and determination by crossing the finish line in first place.
The thrilling race, part of the TC America final round, saw Celso Neto outshine talented rivals and exciting challenges. His victory not only placed him at the top of the podium but also stands as a testament to his hard work and dedication to the sport.
Celso Neto’s triumph in TC America is a milestone in his career and a promising sign of a bright future in motorsport. With his first victory, he leaves an indelible mark in the TC category and leaves fans eagerly anticipating more exciting achievements in his journey on the tracks.
It’s important to highlight that this victory is not just a personal milestone for Celso Neto but also a significant achievement for the Skip Barber Racing School and a demonstration of the talent and dedication of Brazilian drivers in the international motorsport scene.
Final Standings TC America Championship – TC Category
- Clayton Williams – 258 points (Mini Cooper)
- Jeff Ricca – 249 points (Hyundai Elantra N)
- Celso Neto – 197 points (Honda Civic TypeR)
- Cristian Perocarpi – 170 points (Mini Cooper)
- Sally McNulty – 149 points (Hyundai Veloster N)
- Jeremiah Burton – 96 points (Honda Civic TypeR)
- Kris Valdez – 91 points (Honda Civic TypeR)
- Michael Hurczyn – 42 points (Honda Civic TypeR)
- Ruben Iglesias Jr. – 6 points (Honda Civic TypeR)
- Ken Fukuda – 0 points (Honda Civic TypeR)
How the Weekend Unfolded in Indianapolis
Thursday’s practice sessions began with a dry track, allowing all the drivers to warm up their tires in Indianapolis. However, Celso Neto faced an issue early in his second lap during the first official practice. In the afternoon, rain fell at the Racing Capital of the World, leading to the cancellation of the second practice.
On Friday afternoon, it was time for qualifying. Celso Neto secured the second position on the starting grid. In Saturday’s Race 1, the TC class witnessed intense action, marked by a display of skill and strategy. Christian Perocarpi, hailed as a local hero, made an impressive start in his MINI JCW Pro TC from the MINI JCW Team Mini JCW, taking the lead on the first lap. However, he faced a fierce challenge from Celso Neto in the Skip Barber Racing School Honda Civic Type-R, who quickly assumed the lead on the first lap. Remarkably, Celso Neto started in second place with an incredible qualifying lap, without any prior track practice, jumping straight into qualifying.
As the race progressed, Perocarpi skillfully closed in on Neto, setting the stage for an exciting battle. However, after several overtaking attempts and a clean and beautiful battle, Celso Neto began to build a lead and gain confidence. Suddenly, a competitor lost control and, on the way back onto the track, collided with Celso Neto. A sudden on-track incident saw Neto’s hopes vanish as he suffered damage, was thrown into the gravel, and prompted the first full-course yellow.
With the race back on track and only minutes remaining, Jeff Ricca seized the moment, executing a remarkable move in his Genracer/Ricca Autosport Hyundai Elantra N TC, jumping from P2 to P1. Ricca showcased his skill, winning the race and marking his eighth victory of the season. The fierce competition intensified the championship race, increasing the anticipation for the final on the following Sunday.
Perocarpi displayed remarkable resilience, securing the second position after a relentless pursuit of Ricca. Kris Valdez impressed with a stellar performance, securing the final spot on the podium in the DRS Honda Civic Type-R.
On Sunday, the final race of the year had a dramatic start in the TC class, as Cristian Perocarpi’s MINI JCW Pro TC No. 37 from the MINI JCW Team Mini JCW collided with Jeff Ricca’s Genracer/Ricca Autosport Hyundai Elantra N TC No. 78, resulting in front-left damage to Ricca’s car, while Perocarpi was forced to retire from the race.
Celso Neto took the lead with his Skip Barber Racing School Honda Civic Type-R, with Clayton Williams seeking to capitalize on crucial championship points in the MINI JCW Pro TC from the MINI JCW Team Mini JCW. Ricca managed to recover and held onto the third position steadily but couldn’t catch Williams ahead.
Celso Neto took a rebuilt car (after the Saturday accident) and cruised to a well-deserved victory with a 5-second lead, his first in the series after coming close to victory all year. The win secured him the third place in the Overall Championship Standings.
Celso Neto’s comments (#7 Skip Barber Racing School Honda Civic Type R, Sunday TC winner): “This has been a long time coming, and I’m very happy to be here [on the podium]. I’ve worked very hard with everyone at my team at Skip Barber Racing; they did an amazing job. We didn’t have any practice this weekend, but we went straight into qualifying and put the car in P2. I led the whole race yesterday until a slower car took us out. That was frustrating; it was a big hit. But the team worked overnight and got the car ready for today. They did an amazing job; not many teams could have done the necessary work in the time they had. It was perfect today; I couldn’t ask for more.”
Celso Neto is sponsored by AMED, Oeste Cotton, Dipromed, Supermed, LS Inter Bank , Max Home Design, and Skip Barber Racing School.
Text credits:By Journalist Flávio Bergmann
photomontage: the by Vinícius Pascoal