Richardson Racing team secured a hat trick of top 12 finishes from its most challenging weekend of the season to date after the new MSA Formula series headed to Thruxton for the third meeting of the campaign.
The Castle Bytham-based team made the journey south to Hampshire aware that it was on the back foot compared to its on-track rivals, having missed pre-event testing, which took place last month.
It meant that qualifying on Saturday morning marked the first time that Louise Richardson had sampled the fastest circuit on the calendar in single-seater machinery, having missed the corresponding event last year during her Formula Ford programme.
While that lack of experience played a part in her qualifying in 19th place, Louise went into the opening race buoyed by the fact that she was able to qualify just 2.5sec off the overall pace, and a solid performance in race one saw her work her way forwards to 12th place.
Having already bettered her qualifying time in race one, Louise then made further strides forward in race two, briefly running inside the top 10 before eventually matching her result from race one.
Encouragingly, her fastest lap of the race was just three-tenths slower than race winner Lando Norris, with Louise taking the flag less than 10 seconds behind the leader after a frenetic race on track.
The final race of the weekend once again saw Louise cross the line in 12th after battling her way forwards from 19th on the grid, leaving confidence high heading into a short break before the fourth meeting of the year at Oulton Park in early June.
Louise said: “I feel we’ve taken another step forward this weekend, but Thruxton was always going to be a challenging event for us after missing the pre-event test a few weeks ago. It meant we had to go straight into qualifying with no previous running and while that meant I was towards the back of the grid, I was happy with my pace and it gave me a platform to move forwards.
“Overall, I’m happy with the progress I made in terms of my pace and it was good to be able to fight with the guys in the midfield in each of the races. What I now need to work on is boosting my confidence in the car and what it can do as my speed is good; I just need to better my racecraft.
“When you consider we’ve been going from race to race so far this season without the benefit of the testing that other teams have had, I think we can be pleased with the weekend and can aim to push forwards again next time out at Oulton Park.”
Team-mate Ollie Pidgley went into the weekend targeting three more finishes in only the second race meeting of his single-seater career, with the teenager eager to impress at his home circuit.
While Ollie had previously tested at the circuit earlier in the year, that test took place in heavy rain meaning that qualifying was his first experience of Thruxton’s sweeping curves in dry conditions.
Qualifying in 20th place on the grid, Ollie followed Louise in making solid progress through the opening race of the weekend – working his way forward to 14th place by the finish and improving on his qualifying time by three tenths of a second.
He ended the second race in 18th spot and just missed out on a top 15 place finish in race three.