Grantham-based Richardson Racing secured two podium finishes in the G50 class of the Michelin Ginetta GT Supercup during a difficult second round of the season on home soil at Donington Park.
Brother and sister pair Andrew and Louise Richardson endured a trying start to the weekend when they were caught up in someone else’s accident during qualifying but continued to display impressive speed during the three races on only their second meeting in the series.
Although Andrew was unable to match the strong results he enjoyed during the season opener at Brands Hatch, younger sister Louise was able to make her first trips to the podium to strengthen her championship position.
Qualifying didn’t go to plan for Andrew when he was involved in an incident mid-way through the session that left him down in 15th place on the grid and fifth in the G50 class. Turning into the right-hander at McLeans, Andrew was suddenly faced with the car of Connaire Finn on the circuit in front of him having suffered a spin and was unable to avoid clipping the Beacon Racing car. To compound his issues, Louise was following directly behind and the siblings made contact – putting both out of the session.
With the team having worked hard to repair the damage, Andrew took his place on the grid for the opening race but a fine start saw him jump up to second in class before he ran wide on the marbles on the side of the circuit and dropped to the rear of the field. Despite that, he quickly fought his way up into the top six until he was hit by the G55 of Jordan Skinner – breaking a wishbone and putting him out of the race.
Another strong start to race two saw Andrew climb up into the top ten overall and the forward progress continued as he moved up to seventh overall and second in the G50 class behind Aaron Williamson. Having moved into the class lead for four laps, a three way fight for honours between Andrew, Williamson and Tom Ingram ended in tears on the 13th lap when Williamson hit Andrew as they came through Schwantz Curve. That put both cars into a spin, with Ingram also being collected as the three cars went into the gravel at McLeans.
Capping a difficult weekend for 19-year-old Andrew, the final race ended in disappointment when contact to the rear of his car at the Chicane damaged the diffuser and left him with an ill-handling machine. Despite that, he managed to run as high as fifth in class before being forced to retire two laps from the finish when the alternator belt snapped, meaning he now slips to eighth in the G50 standings.
“Obviously I can’t be happy with three DNFs, but the positive from the weekend is that we were quick and we were able to race strongly,” he said. “Even though I didn’t have the pace to match Tom Ingram in terms of the fastest lap, I was able to fight with him on track. In race two, I had the line when we were fighting for the lead and I was on for a victory, but then Williamson tapped me in the rear and we all went off.
“In race three, the handling of the car was affected by the diffuser being broken when someone hit me in the rear and then a warning light came on and I pulled into the pits. It’s been a tough weekend but I come away from Donington knowing we can fight for victories even if we don’t always have the quickest car and I’m hopeful of a good weekend when we go to Thruxton for the next round.”
After the incident in qualifying, Louise lined up 17th on the grid and seventh in the G50 class but a strong start saw her climb up to eleventh overall and fifth in class by the end of the second lap. However, an error at the final chicane on the eighth lap saw her forced to take to the escape road before rejoining at the rear of the field. Battling ahead of Finn before the finish, Louise eventually took the chequered flag in 13th place overall and sixth amongst the G50 drivers.
Having suffered a challenging start to her season, race two was where Louise’s pace at the wheel of the G50 was rewarded as she clinched a first podium finish of the season having battled throughout the race with former Ginetta Junior rivals Jody Fannin and Jake Hill over fourth place in class. Following Andrew’s incident, Louise was promoted to second in class and eighth overall and held the place to the flag to clinch her best result of the season so far.
The final race of the weekend again saw Louise show her speed at the wheel of the G50 after she battled her way up into the class lead through the early laps only to then be shuffled back to fourth in class as an electrical issue caused her engine to intermittently shut down. Having taken the flag in eleventh overall and fourth in G50, Louise inherited a second podium finish of the weekend when Fannin was excluded for a technical infringement, and she now sits fifth in the G50 class with six of the 28 rounds having been run.
“I was happy to even be able to race this weekend after we discovered the chassis of my car was broken on the Tuesday before the event,” she said. “To come back from that and avoid the carnage in race two to get onto the podium, and then get another podium in race three despite the electrical problem, was good.
“After Brands Hatch it was important to get some good points, and two podium finishes has given me a big boost in the standings. I’ve managed to close the gap and have brought myself back into contention, and I’m now only two wins away from the championship lead.”
The next round of the Michelin Ginetta GT Supercup takes place at the high-speed Thruxton circuit in Hampshire on the weekend of 30 April/1 May.