MOTOR RACING: Castle Bytham team get back on track with new female driver

Richardson Racing's new protege Alexandra Marinescu.
Richardson Racing's new protege Alexandra Marinescu.
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Castle Bytham-based Richardson Racing team have confirm they will return to single-seater competition for the remainder of the 2016 F4 British Championship, after agreeing terms on a deal with Romanian youngster Alexandra Marinescu.

The team has spent the past two seasons competing in the championship under its previous guises of Formula Ford and MSA Formula, but sat out the opening half of the new campaign whilst evaluating potential drivers.

Amongst those drivers was 16-year-old Alexandra, who has now put pen to paper on a deal that will see her contest the remaining five meetings on the 2016 schedule, starting with this weekend’s sixth round of the season at Snetterton.

The first female single-seater driver from Romania, Alexandra enjoyed a successful career in karting before making the move into the Skip Barber Summer Series in the USA in 2014, where she picked up six top 10 finishes in just eight starts.

Alexandra had planned to contest the 2015 MSA Formula season, only for funding issues to curtail her programme, forcing her on to the sidelines as she worked to secure the sponsorship required for a return.

In preparation for her return to competitive action, Alexandra has been hard at work behind the wheel of her new Ford Ecoboost-powered Mygale, with tests at Snetterton, Rockingham, Silverstone and Brands Hatch in recent weeks.

Now the youngster will seek to build on the progress shown during her ‘pre-season’ testing programme when the real action gets underway with three races in Norfolk this weekend, with the main aim being to bring home three solid finishes and to increase her experience.

“I’m really pleased to have agreed a deal to race in the remainder of the British F4 season and I can’t wait for this weekend,” she said. “Testing has gone well and to be honest, it’s not taken me as long to get back up to speed as I thought it would, having been out of a race car for 18 months.

“I knew it wouldn’t be easy to jump in the car and be right on the pace, but I think the lap-times I have posted in testing have been encouraging when you consider the amount of experience that I have. I’ve also managed to build a good relationship with the team really quickly and we are all getting on well, which is important. They have given me a good car, and that gives me confidence going into my first race weekend.

“I know that I’m not going to be challenging for wins during the second half of this season, as that is an unrealistic aim at the moment. What I want to do is improve my performance on a race-by-race basis and get into a position where I am able to fight in the middle of the pack. If we can do that before the end of the season, then I think I will have done well.”

Team boss Gwyn Richardson admitted he had been impressed by Alexandra’s performance during her time behind the wheel and expressed confidence in the teenager’s ability to show her talents through the remainder of the year.

“Alexandra has basically had five days of testing to try and catch up with rivals who have been racing for half a season, and have done numerous tests on top of that,” he said. “With that in mind, we’re delighted with how she has done so far, especially considering the amount of experience she has.

“She is still learning and very much a work in progress, but Alexandra has driven very well in testing and shown the talent she has. Her pace has been good relative to the times that more experienced drivers have put in, and whilst Snetterton will be a tough circuit on which to make her debut, we’re confident that she’ll be competitive.

“We are under no illusions about the challenge ahead but as Alexandra’s knowledge and experience increases, we have no doubt that she’ll soon be working her way up the grid.”