Brother and sister pair Andrew and Louise Richardson went into the season finale on the short National circuit aiming for the top step of the podium, with Andrew eager to add to his win tally and Louise hoping to taste victory champagne for the first time this year.
Chasing her first victory of the season, Louise’s weekend started well when she posted the third quickest time amongst the G50 drivers during the two free practice sessions on Friday. Repeating that feat in qualifying, Louise then secured third in class and twelfth overall on the grid for the opening race after a closely-fought session that saw her miss class pole by just 0.073secs.
However, Louise’s hopes of ending the season with a trip to the top of the podium ended in dramatic fashion on the opening lap, when she was forced onto the grass by the G55 of Jamie Orton as the field headed into the left-hand kink prior to Becketts. Once on the grass, Louise was powerless to stop her car from getting sideways and having come back onto the circuit in the middle of the pack, she was then collected by the car of fellow G50 runner Aaron Williamson.
Heavy contact with the driver’s door caused extensive damage to Louise’s car and left her trapped in her seat, with rescue crews attending the incident to help her from the wreckage. After a visit to the circuit medical centre, Louise was transferred to hospital for checks, but luckily escaped with nothing more than a bruised leg.
“I got alongside the G55 on the run to Becketts but just as we came up the little left-hand kink before the corner and entered the braking zone, he squeezed me onto the grass,” she said. “I’m not sure he realised I was there. When I braked, the car got sideways and when I came back onto the circuit, I hit Jake Rattenbury and that turned my car round right in front of Aaron; he just had nowhere to go.
“Unfortunately he hit my car in just the wrong place and I ended up being trapped in my seat. I’ve got to thank the people that got me out for doing a fantastic job as they helped to keep me calm and made sure I was in as little pain as possible – I’m really grateful for their help.
“I’ve had a lot of bad luck this season and got caught up in incidents that weren’t my fault, but I’ve also shown I have the pace to run at the front and have finished on the podium. I have to thank the boys in the team for the work they’ve done on the car over the season as it improved a lot over the course of the year.”
Louise’s accident meant Andrew was left to fly the flag for the team, although his hopes of victory in race one were also ended by an incident early on. Prior to the red flag being shown for Louise’s accident, Andrew – who had qualified fifth amongst the G50 drivers despite being just 0.131secs from pole – was tipped into a spin by Mark Davies going into Brooklands, which dropped him to the rear of the field.
That meant Andrew started from the very back of the pack when the race was restarted but he made up five places on the opening lap alone to lie 15th overall. Continuing his forward progress, Andrew worked his way up to eleventh overall and third in class by lap nine and then put Mark Johnston under pressure before clinching second amongst the G50s and tenth overall with a move up the inside into the final corner.
Starting from tenth for the final race of the season, Andrew held his place through the opening lap and fought for the G50 class victory throughout with rival Jake Hill. Despite a G55 driver getting involved in the battle between the pair mid-way through the race, Andrew stayed within a second of Hill throughout the race but had to settle for a repeat of his race one result as he took second in class in the season finale.
“Two podium finishes is a good way to end the season, although it could have been better,” he said. “If I’d not been punted off in race one and had to take the restart from the back, I think I could have battled for victory and in race two, I could possibly have made a move on Jake if the G55 hadn’t got in the mix.
“However, looking at the season as a whole, I think we’ve had a very good year when you consider the amount of track time we’ve had and the fact we have run on a small budget. Personally, I think I have proved myself on track and shown what I can do and there are a lot of positives that I can take away from this season as I start working towards 2012.”
Following the final race, Andrew then headed over to the South circuit at Silverstone for an event with the charity Afghan Heroes, where he gave passenger rides to a number of British servicemen injured in conflict who have since been helped by the charity.
“The event was really good,” he said. “Everyone who came in the car with me was smiling afterwards and seemed to enjoy themselves; which was the main aim of the day. These are people who have been injured fighting for their country and it was great that we could do something for them.”