Grantham-based race team Richardson Racing made a solid start to its assault on the Michelin Ginetta GT Supercup, taking no fewer than four podium finishes from the opening meeting of the season at Brands Hatch.
In the G55 class, Andrew Richardson showed front-running speed throughout the weekend, clinching a best finish of third and breaking the lap record on his first weekend in the premier category. In the G50 class, Huddersfield-racer Mark Davies celebrated his first meeting with the team by taking a win and second place away from the weekend, while Louise Richardson also picked up a podium on her first outing in the Ginetta since the 2011 season finale at Silverstone.
Andrew qualified an impressive second on the grid for his first race in the G55 having been pipped to pole position by Tom Sharp, and held his position off the line when the lights went out. Unfortunately, he was then handed a drive-through penalty for a jump-start caused by a dragging clutch, which dropped him to the rear of the field. From there, he launched an impressive recovery drive to storm back through the pack to eighth place and, showing his pace, Andrew also broke the lap record on the final lap, going two-tenths of a second quicker than any of his rivals.
From eighth on the grid for race two, Andy quickly made up places on the opening lap to sit in fifth place and soon moved up to fourth when Fergus Walkinshaw ran wide at Paddock Hill Bend on lap four. However, on the following lap, Andy tried to make a move around the outside of Tom Ingram into the same corner only for Ingram to put a wheel onto the kerb on the inside. Unsettling his car, Ingram went into a spin and collected Andy as he came back across the track – putting both out on the spot.
With heavy damage to the rear of his car, the team worked hard to repair Andy’s car for the final race and despite an ill-handling car caused by the need to fit old tyres to the rear, he produced a fine performance to come through from 15th on the grid to secure third place and his first podium of the year. Andrew ends the weekend sitting sixth in the G55 standings.
“It’s been a real rollercoaster of a weekend,” he said. “The penalty in race one cost me a good result there but I showed my speed with the lap record and then in race two, I made a good move round the outside of Ingram and couldn’t do anything when he spun. For race three, we just got the car back together in time so the handling wasn’t great and we were on old tyres on the rear as the incident in race two had ruined the tyres I had on. It was a bit of struggle and I know we could have been quicker but it was good to get onto the podium.
“I’m pleased for myself and for the team that we have shown we have the pace to be right at the front, now we just need to get the results. We’ve come away from the weekend with a fastest lap and a podium, and the first win will come soon.”
Mark had qualified on the G50 class pole for his first race weekend in Richardson Racing colours, and the reigning Ginetta Challenge champion was able to build on the encouraging pace shown in pre-season testing as he dominated the opening race, moving ahead of a number of the quicker G55 cars to take the chequered flag first in class and eighth overall.
A repeat in race two looked likely when Mark again ran at the head of the G50 class, climbing as high as fifth overall before a mistake going through Surtees saw him lock a brake and run wide. Dropping down to sixth in class as a result, Mark drove well through the closing laps to climb back to fourth in class and ninth overall at the finish.
At the start of the final race, Mark made up one place off the line to lie third in class and tenth overall before a shunt ahead allowed him to move to eighth overall on the third lap. After a Safety Car period to remove damaged cars from the circuit, Mark continued to run third in class with a number of G55 cars becoming involved in the fight for overall position – hampering his chances of climbing further up the class order.
Although he crossed the line third in class and eighth overall, a time penalty for rival Ian Parsons for exceeding track limits meant Mark was promoted to second place, while he also ended the weekend with the fastest G50 lap in two of the three races. Mark leads the G50 standings after the opening three races of the year.
“We’ve had a good weekend,” Mark said. “We’ve been able to see what the others are capable of and have also learned more about the car which will help us moving forwards. I knew it would be close here and it could be the same at Donington Park, then we’ll go to the bigger circuits that I prefer. Winning the first race was great and it was a shame that I made a mistake in race two and lost the chance to win again.
“I was still on the inside of the grid for the final race and made up a place before the start when Max Coates pulled off and to be honest, I don’t think we could have done much more in the final race. I picked up an extra place when someone else got a penalty but it was all about picking up the points in race three as that is what helps you win championships.”
Having qualified second in the G50 class, Louise also enjoyed a solid start to the race weekend as she too ran untroubled through the first 16 lap encounter, following Mark home to take second place in class and tenth overall.
Maintaining her place when race two got underway, Louise looked well placed to challenge for at least a podium finish again in the second race of the weekend before she started to suffer from a loss of power that hampered her challenge on track. Despite that, she was able to take the flag fifth in class and twelfth overall.
For the final race, Louise lined up in tenth on the grid and although she lost an overall position on the opening lap, she was able to climb to third amongst the G50s. However, at the end of the second lap, she was caught up in a multi-car accident triggered by contact between the G55s of Walkinshaw and Tom Sharp ahead. Slowing with the rest of the field to avoid spinning cars ahead, Louise was hit in the rear by Reece Somerfield and tipped into a spin, although she was able to keep her car out of the barriers.
Despite flat-spotting her tyres and with damage to the rear of the car, Louise battled on to the finish to secure fourth place in class and ninth place overall. At the end of the weekend, she sits fourth in the G50 class standings.
“It was a big ask to get up to speed when I hadn’t been in the car since Silverstone last year and then I had some issues in testing on Friday so qualifying second was great,” she said. “The first race was fantastic to get a 1-2 finish with Mark but then I lost power in race two and there wasn’t much I could do there. I was confident for race three but then there was the accident ahead and when I slowed with the cars in front, the guy behind was too close to have time to react and so hit me in the rear. Luckily I managed to avoid the other cars and kept it out of the barriers and could rejoin but the tyres were flat-spotted and the damage to the car meant it was difficult to drive.
“Overall, I’d say it’s been a good weekend and the team did a great job. Hopefully we can now find the backing for me to do more rounds and build on the results we picked up this weekend.”