Grantham-based Richardson Racing made a solid start to its assault on the 2012 Michelin Ginetta GT Supercup with all three of its drivers taking podium finishes on the opening weekend at Brands Hatch.
In the main class, Andrew Richardson showed front-running pace throughout the weekend on his race debut in a G55. Qualifying second on the grid, Richardson held the position at the start of the opening race, however he was handed a drive-through penalty for a jump-start, caused by a dragging clutch.
This dropped him to the rear of the field, but Richardson was able to fight back to eighth. Starting in that spot for race two, Richardson quickly moved up to fourth over the first few laps. On lap five, Richardson tried to make a move around the outside of Tom Ingram for third, however Ingram hit the inside kerb, unsettling his car, causing him to spin and collect Richardson, putting both into the gravel and out of the race.
After his team worked hard to repair damage to the rear of his car, Richardson got out in race three in an ill-handling car. Despite this, a superb performance from fifteenth on the grid saw him come through to secure third place and his first podium of the season.
Andy said: “It's been a real rollercoaster of a weekend. 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.”
In the G50 class, Huddersfield-based racer Mark Davies was marking his first meeting with the team and he got the relationship off to a great start by qualifying on class pole. The reigning Ginetta Challenge champion dominated the opening race, even racing some of the quicker G55 cars, taking the class win in eighth overall.
It looked like there would be a repeat in race two as Davies lead the class again, however a mistake into Surtees saw him lock a brake and run wide, dropping him to sixth in class, however he was able to recover to fourth. In the final race, Davies moved up to third early on but stuck around a number of G55's, he was unable to make further progress by the end. A late time penalty though for the driver ahead promoted him to second for his second podium of the weekend, giving him the early G50 class championship lead.
Davies said: “We've had a good weekend. 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.”
Joining Davies in the G50's was Andrews sister Louise Richardson, who used her experience from the G50's in 2011 to qualifying a strong second in class. A solid opening race saw her run untroubled throughout to take second in class to start the season with a great one-two for the Richardson Racing outfit.
Richardson looked well placed to challenge for another podium finish in the second race after a strong start saw her hold second, however her G50 started suffering from a loss of power, dropping Louise to an eventual finish of fifth in class.
For the final race, a great start saw Richardson climb to third in class, however at the end of the second lap she was caught up in a massive multi-car accident on the pit straight, with her getting hit in the rear when braking to avoid spinning cars ahead. Despite flat-spotted tyres and damage to the rear, Richardson was able to continue and ended up fourth in class to cap off a promising weekend.
Louise added: “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. 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.”