MOTORSPORT: Castle Bytham racing team enjoys best weekend of season

Louise Richardson celebrates her third  place podium finish at Croft. Photo: Jakob Ebrey
Louise Richardson celebrates her third place podium finish at Croft. Photo: Jakob Ebrey

Castle Bytham-based Richardson Racing team enjoyed its best weekend of the year by far at Croft as the MSA Formula season reached the halfway stage in North Yorkshire.

The team secured a first podium finish of the season thanks to Louise Richardson, who was in contention towards the front of the field throughout the weekend, while rookie team-mate Ollie Pidgley continued with his single-seater education, adding three more race finishes to his resumé.

On the back of a tough weekend at Oulton Park, the team worked hard in the three weeks between races on a series of radical changes to its Ford EcoBoost-powered car, and the improvements were clear from the moment the cars hit the track for Friday practice.

Having been on the pace in both wet and dry conditions, Louise qualified seventh quickest and then started the opening race from sixth thanks to a grid penalty for one of the drivers ahead.Showing her pace was no flash in the pan, Louise produced one of her most impressive drives of the season to secure a comfortable fifth place finish – which earned her a place on the second row for the reverse-grid second race.

Getting away from the line well, Louise quickly moved ahead of Matheus Leist into third place and then became embroiled in a race-long battle for second with the Carlin-run car of Colton Herta. Although she briefly managed to get alongside the American, Louise ultimately elected to settle for third and her first podium finish of the year.

The weekend drew to a close with a solid sixth place finish in race three, allowing Louise to jump up to 15th place in the championship standings; her points tally from the Croft weekend being greater than those scored through the opening four rounds of the year combined.

Louise said it had been a fantastic weekend: “The team has worked really hard on the car since Oulton Park and we made some pretty radical changes to extract more performance from it. I hoped we might come here and break into the top 10, so to have three top six finishes and a podium is just brilliant.

“Race one went to plan and then in race two, I just felt so comfortable in the car and could really push. There was a chance I could have got ahead of Colton, but the team has worked so hard that I didn’t want to risk losing a podium finish and third was still a brilliant result.

“If I’m being honest, I’m a little disappointed at only taking sixth in race three but when you consider the step forward we have made, I can’t really complain.

“All the little things we did to improve the car came together perfectly and it has given us a real platform that we can now build on during the summer. We have a test booked where we’ll work on refining the car even more.”