FORMER Bourne Grammar School pupil Andrew Richardson enjoyed a winning start to the Michelin Ginetta GT Supercar season on the opening weekend at Brands Hatch.
Richardson, 19, from Castle Bytham and his sister Louise, 18, who is also a former Bourne Grammar pupil, showed impressive pace on their debuts in the G50 class, part of the touring car series.
Andrew secured two podiums – including victory in the second race of the weekend – while Louise showed the battling qualities that made her one of the stars of the 2010 Ginetta Junior Championship season.
Andrew qualified sixth in the G50 class and 16th overall for his race debut and had leapt to second by the end of the opening lap.
He hassled G50 class leader Jody Fannin throughout despite a mid-race safety car period, to take the chequered flag less than four-tenths of a second behind his rival.
Starting the second race as second in class and tenth overall, Andrew jumped into the lead on the opening lap and was running in seventh, ahead of a number of the quicker G55 entries. Despite two spells behind the safety car he saw off the challenge of Ginetta Junior champion Tom Ingram to take his maiden G50 victory by just 0.181 seconds and a second overall top ten of the weekend. Andrew also broke the G50 lap record en-route to victory.
Andrew’s hopes of a third podium finish of the weekend were dashed ahead of the final race when his car refused to fire up as the field prepared to head to the grid. Despite the efforts of the team to find the cause of the problem, he was unable to take the start – with the problem later traced to the fuel pump.
Despite being forced to miss the final race, his impressive earlier performances mean he sits third in the G50 class standings.
“Going into the weekend I didn’t think we’d be in a position to win, although I had hoped to be running towards the front,” he said. “After practice I thought we had a real chance and, if I’m being honest, I was disappointed that I missed out on victory in the first race.
“The second race was really tough and I couldn’t relax at all, so to take the victory was brilliant as it showed the pace we have despite the fact I had a problem with a rear hub on the car.
“Of course it was disappointing to miss the final race after my earlier results but we’ll bounce back from that disappointment next time out.”
Younger sister Louise started the opening race from fifth in class (15th overall) and moved through the field to lie fourth in class (12th overall) by the end of lap four.
Louise moved ahead of Rob Gaffney with a fine move through the Paddock Hill Bend on lap 11 but after the safety car came out, she was forced wide by Gaffney in a move that also allowed Ingram to push her down to fifth.
On the final lap, she surged down the inside of Ingram to reclaim fourth in class (12th overall) as she exited the final corner.
Louise slipped back early on the second race but passed Hill and Gafney, and with Fanin going off the track, moved up to third by lap 13. But on the approach to Druids on the following lap, Louise was given a tap from behind and span into the gravel and out of the race.
She was then forced to withdraw from the third race because of a sheared bolt on her left rear wheel.
Louise said: “We had some problems with the car this weekend that have cost me time and it ultimately meant I ended up with two DNFs. Once we resolve those problems, I know we can be quicker.”
The next three races of the Ginetta GT Supercup season take place at Donnington Park on the weekend of April 16 and 17.