Castle Bytham single-seater racer Louise Richardson endured a challenging start to her MSA Formula campaign at Brands Hatch at the weekend, with a single finish from three races being little reward for her efforts on track.
While the Richardson Racing team had been able to test with a number of drivers over the course of the winter, Louise had not been in her car until Friday testing at the Kent circuit – putting her on the back foot compared to many of her rivals.
Despite that, she was quickly up to speed and produced an impressive performance in qualifying to put her Ford EcoBoost-powered car sixth on the 19-car grid for the opening race of the weekend.
Unfortunately, that first race on Saturday evening would prove to be a short-lived affair, when a spin on cold tyres early on saw Louise become beached in the gravel at Paddock Hill Bend.
Having managed to avoid a spinning car ahead at the start of race two on Sunday morning, Louise secured her first finish of the season with a solid 12th place, gaining valuable dry track time in the process.
Louise headed into race three in confident mood but was forced into retirement following an unfortunate incident behind the safety car.
As the field was released to resume racing after the second of two early caution periods, she was caught out by the driver ahead and the resultant front-wing damage left her with no option but to bring her car back into the pits.
However, with experience of the car now under her belt, Louise will be hopiing for forward progress when the series heads to Donington Park for the second meeting of the year.
Louise said: “It’s been a bit of a mixed weekend if I’m being honest. I’ve improved my pace throughout the weekend as I got more used to the car and in race three I was really hoping we could get a strong result but it wasn’t to be.
“What happened on track was really unfortunate and at first, I thought I’d made a mistake. However, having had chance to watch it back, the driver in front started to go with the rest of the field and then suddenly slowed – leaving me with nowhere to go.
“Despite that, I feel quite happy with how I’ve got to grips with the car considering I didn’t get to do any pre-season testing and I think it suits me more than the Formula Ford car I raced last year. It meant I was quite close to the pace straight away, and there is still plenty more to come.
“The mixed conditions we’ve faced on track haven’t been ideal for me this weekend, but I’m hopeful we can take a step forwards when we go to Donington Park. We’ve got people interested in our second car and all being well, I’ll have a team-mate alongside me when we head there in a few weeks.”