“Success is not guaranteed.”
Jack Keithley, a smile painted from ear-to-ear, chuckled at his words. Ever since he was 13, he’s been a racer. Sitting amongst his trophies and rocking the iconic black kit with a dash of blue, it’s clear how much being part of Williams Esports means to him.
His above statement rings true for many in this life. But even in moments when success is playing hide-and-seek, we’re able to find ourselves in unique ways. Keithley did just that when he inked his deal with the team at the beginning of 2019.
“It’s just really, really good to be at Williams. I mean, the fact they picked me up a few years, is absolutely incredible. It’s a dream of mine which I never realised I wanted. I always had to try and punch myself to wake myself up.”
Williams Esports joined the sim racing world in 2018 and has been highly competitive in the biggest online events, including the Le Mans Virtual Series. In Round 1 at Bahrain, the #5 LMP car, driven by Keithley and his fellow teammates, finished 11th overall. Maybe not the result they hoped for, yet a promising effort they’ll look to improve on this coming weekend at Monza.
Keithley is competing in the LMP class this season; although, he did take a spin in the GTE cars last year and says it’s not a whole lot different.
“Honestly, the biggest difference is probably the depth of the field,” he reflected. “More cars, more people to battle, more drivers. I’ve had experience driving the LMP car, so you could put me in GTE, LMP…doesn’t make a huge difference.
“To me, the challenge is still to try and win the best I can. You just have probably more variables with the LMP. The cars are a bit more sensitive to changes and strategies. But nothing too crazy.”
The British sim racer admits that despite the faster pace in the LMP, he prefers the GTE. He’s primarily raced GTE cars over the last few years in RaceRoom and the ADAC GT Masters. Put simply, Keithley says it’s more fun. And, in his opinion, the preparation for each class is fairly neutral.
“It’s more so you’re learning about the mechanics of the game itself with the updates and the tire models, and how the car reacts to different fuel loads, different tire wear levels…so you’re adaptin to what the game is doing rather than the car itself.
“Prep wise, there’s not a huge amount of difference, believe it not, because I practice my absolute butt off no matter what race is coming up,” he laughed when I asked him about how much time he prepares for the LMVS compared to the E1 Championships.
The Le Mans Virtual Series seems to be Keithley’s priority at the moment.
With the 4 Hours of Monza just around the corner, Williams Esports hopes to bounce back in the standings with a stellar performance from the entire squad. Which kind of goes back to our starting quote.
It’s interesting to me, at least, that no matter which team you represent—big or small—a podium isn’t always promised. We saw that with the results from Bahrain, actually, as the little esports team out of Denmark, Burst Esport, took first place.
No matter who you are, though, passion seems to be the key ingredient to success in any form.
“Watch out for us because we will be further up there.”
Keithley works a full-time gig, which includes overnight shift work. That means his schedule is a tad unique compared to others, since he usually goes to bed around 11am. Preparing for the LMVS requires mental strength and tenacity.
His advice to others who hope to be in a Williams Esports car—or driving for any sim racing team, for that matter—is pretty genuine.
“You know, I was kind of used to being up really late when I was a kid to take care of my mum. So, it’s nota huge deal to me,” Keithley said when I asked him what it takes to make it with a team like Williams Esports, while also working late nights. “Just keep grinding. Eventually, it will come. Whenever that may be, it will come.
“Just don’t give up.”
Jack Keithley, along with his Williams Esports teammates, will look to rebound this weekend at the 4 Hours of Monza, happening on Saturday 8 October over on the Traxion.GG YouTube channel. Be sure to tune in!