Sports - May 22, 2023

Celso Neto Shines in Qualifying Amid Intense Racing Weekend at COTA

The legendary Circuit of The Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas, hosted another electrifying racing weekend. Fans and drivers alike geared up for an intense contest, with plenty of excitement and a few unexpected twists.

The weekend got off to a promising start for Brazilian driver Celso Neto in the #7 Skip Barber Racing School Honda Civic Type-R. During the first practice on Friday, Neto set the fastest lap, making it clear that he was a force to be reckoned with this weekend.

As Saturday dawned, all eyes were on the TC America qualifying. It was an exhilarating session that saw some standout performances. Neto once again proved his mettle, coming out on top in the TC class with a stellar performance that put half a second between himself and his closest competitor, Clayton Williams in the No. 60 MINI JCW Team Mini JCW Pro TC. Williams’ teammate, Cristian Perocarpi, was not far behind, securing the third position in his No. 37 MINI JCW Team sister car.

The competition was incredibly tight, with the margin between the fourth and fifth on the grid coming down to a mere 0.003 seconds. Jeremiah Burton, in his No. 34 Skip Barber Racing School Honda Civic Type-R, managed to just edge out Sally McNulty in the No. 780 Genracer Hyundai Veloster N DCT TC.

Race one on Saturday in the TC class was a tight contest with Williams eventually emerging as the winner, but not before an exciting back-and-forth with pole-sitter Celso Neto. The lead oscillated between the two for the majority of the race, with Williams managing to make the final pass on the final lap, taking the victory. Michael Hurczyn, driving the No. 8 VGRT Honda Civic Type-R, put on an impressive display, gaining four positions during the race.

The second race on Sunday again saw Williams, in the No. 60 MINI JCW Team Mini JCW Pro TC, pushing past pole-sitter Neto early in the race. He turned this opportunity into a class win, sweeping the weekend. Neto, after slipping to third position due to a daring pass by Cristian Perocarpi, held his position for the remainder of the race.

The absence of Jeff Ricca, the driver who had an unblemished record of four wins in the first four races, was noticeable. Ricca was competing at the Nürburgring 24 Hours, where he qualified second in his class, highlighting the depth of talent in the SRO Motorsports America.

Despite not clinching the win, Celso Neto demonstrated formidable skill and resilience throughout the weekend. His stellar performance in the qualifying rounds and consistency on the race track left a lasting impression. It’s clear that Neto is a driver to watch in future races, and we can’t wait to see where his racing journey takes him next.

Text credits: Flavio Bergmann / Guilherme Ferreira 

Photo credits: photomontage:  Vinícius Pascoal

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