Louise Richardson enjoyed a strong return to the Dunlop MSA Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain with a brace of top eight finishes during the fifth meeting of the season at Croft.
The 21-year-old Aston University student was making only her second appearance of the year in the single-seater series having concluded a deal that will see her contest the remainder of the season with her family-run Richardson Racing team from Castle Bytham.
The Croft race meeting marked the first time she had got behind the wheel of her Ford EcoBoost-powered Mygale since the Brands Hatch season opener in late March, although she was quickly up to speed and qualified 10th for the first race of the weekend.
A stunning start saw Louise move up to eighth place on the opening lap of the 20-minute race, although a spin on lap two dropped her drop to the back of the field.
Putting the frustration of the incident to one side, Louise soon started chasing down the car ahead and having passed the Sinter of Greg Holloway, set about closing the gap to fellow Scholarship runner Chris Mealin.
She brought that gap down by nearly two seconds before a three-car incident at Tower saw the safety car deployed. It remained on track until the chequered flag to leave Louise in eight place overall and third amongst the Scholarship runners.
Despite getting bogged down at the start in race two, Louise repeated the feat as she battled gearbox gremlins to match her result.
The team then worked to try and resolve the issue in time for the final race of the weekend on Sunday.
Starting from 10th on the grid, she maintained her place through the opening lap and took advantage of a clash ahead to climb up into eighth – leaving her well placed to secure a third Scholarship class podium of the weekend.
However, further gearbox problems saw her drop back to ninth and, with the car becoming stuck in fifth gear, she was forced to retire in the closing stages to avoid causing terminal damage to the engine.
Louise said: “If I’m being honest, I think this weekend went better than I thought it would, considering I haven’t driven the car since Brands Hatch.
“Everyone else came here having done nearly half a season of racing and a lot more testing.
“I’m confident that I can come out fighting in the second half of the season and move forwards to start challenging the guys ahead.”