Castle Bytham-based racer Andy Richardson picked up his third top ten finish of the season at Donington Park at the weekend.
The 21-year-old continued to make strong progress in the Dunlop MSA Formula Ford Championship at the second meeting of the year, after an encouraging debut in the season opener at Brands Hatch, where he brought home three solid finishes despite only confirming his entry into the series on the eve of the new campaign.
The Donington weekend started well for Richardson with a solid showing in qualifying at the wheel of his Richardson Racing-run Mygale, with his best lap in the session good enough to take eighth on the grid for race one.
With a driver’s second and third best times being used to determine their starting positions for races two and three, Richardson found himself seventh and eighth on the grid for the two remaining races.
He went into the opening race in confident mood and - after a brief scare when he was unable to get away from the line for the start of the green flag lap – he was on the pace when the race got underway, making up a place to seventh on the opening lap.
Frustratingly, he was handed a drive-through penalty for a start infringement and was then forced to retire with a loss of fluid, although confidence remained high for the remaining two races on Sunday.
Getting away from the line well in race two, Richardson moved up to sixth on the opening lap and by lap five found himself running in fifth place and with a realistic aim of pushing towards a podium place.
Matching the drivers ahead, he was on course for his best finish to date before an overheating engine put him into retirement for a second time.
Richardson rebounded from that disappointment with a solid run in race three that saw him rewarded with his third top ten finish of the season which leave him 11th in the championship heading off to Thruxton for the next round.
“When you look at the results this weekend, they certainly don’t reflect the progress that we have made,” said Richardson.
“Brands Hatch was basically a very public test for us to try and learn as much as we could about the car, so to go from that to be showing the pace to run inside the top six already is really encouraging, and an indication of the good work the team has done in the past few weeks.
“What we need to remember is that this was only our second weekend running a single-seater car and we are up against teams who have a lot of experience of running in Formula Ford, and against teams who have also had a lot more time to develop their cars and have been able to go out and test over the winter; which we haven’t been able to do.
“On track, qualifying went well on Saturday even though I think I could have gone quicker and it was unfortunate that we had to then retire from the first race. In the second race, it was disappointing to be forced out again, although the pace we had shown to that point was hugely encouraging as we were matching the cars around and were in that position on merit.
“It was important to score points in race three and I think we would have finished higher if I hadn’t been hung out to dry at Coppice early on, which cost me a few places. However, the progress we have made this weekend has been fantastic and we have a much better understanding of the car, even if it isn’t reflected by the results on paper.
“We know there is more to come and we have some development work to do that will help us take another step forward and made more progress up the order.”
l Away from the Formula Ford programme, Richardson Racing have entered into a new agreement that will see it return to the Ginetta GT Supercup for the remainder of the season.
From the third round of the year at Thruxton, the team will work alongside Reece Somerfield for his programme in the G55 class, having been approached by the Midlands racer during the Donington event.
Help and guidance from the Richardson Racing team, which won the Ginetta GT Supercup teams and G50 class titles last year, saw Reece take a noticeable step forward with his new G55 during the two Sunday races in his home meeting, where he was able to set his fastest laps of the weekend en-route to a pair of top ten finishes.
An eighth place in race three, where he also posted the fourth fastest race lap, proved to be the highlight, while his best race lap on Sunday was almost two seconds quicker than he was able to manage on Saturday.
While Reece will continue to carry out much of the work on the car himself, he will now do so with guidance and assistance from the Richardson Racing team and will run under the Richardson Racing banner for the rest of the season.