Castle Bytham racing driver Andy Richardson made a solid start to his single-seater career at Brands Hatch on his debut weekend in the Dunlop MSA Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain.
The 21-year-old went into the opening meeting of the season very much on the back foot, having only confirmed his entry into the championship on Thursday.
With the Richardson Racing team only taking delivery of the car on arrival at the Kent circuit on Thursday evening, the first meeting of the year became a test session to allow both driver and team to learn as much as possible about the Ford EcoBoost-powered Mygale.
Despite being forced to miss the first test session on Friday with a battery issue, Andy was able to hit the track in the second to sample his new car for the first time ahead of qualifying.
Improving his lap times from testing, he qualified 12th for each of the three races and then set about the challenge of his maiden single-seater race in challenging conditions that saw drivers forced to battle against snow showers and cold temperatures.
Again lowering his lap times and bringing the gap to the pacesetters down by a second, he started his Formula Ford career with a solid 10th place, coming out on top of a race-long battle with Neil Winn.
Andy’s pace improved again in race two as he moved forwards to run in midfield, with a strong start to the race seeing him involved in a battle for a place in the top five.
Sadly, as the second race wore on, he started to suffer with graining on his tyres and slipped back to eighth spot at the finish, with that tyre wear then having an impact on his chances in race three in which he finished 12th.
The three finishes ensured that he headed away from the opening weekend of the season sitting 10th in the championship standings.
Andy said: “When you consider that we only saw the car for the first time on Thursday night, I think we can be really pleased with the way the weekend has gone,” Andy said. “We improved our lap times throughout and got a lot closer to the pace as we spent more time on track, which is encouraging for us.”
Andy’s father Gwyn, who oversees the Richardson Racing team, added his praise for the mechanics who had worked hard to get the new car on track for the Brands Hatch meeting.
Gwyn said: “The boys in the team did a great job this weekend to get the car prepared, and even more so when you consider that they were working in sub-zero temperatures and using car headlights to guide them on Thursday night before the race truck arrived at the circuit.
“It was certainly a baptism of fire going straight into a race weekend, but both the team and Andy have learned a lot that will help us when we get to Donington Park.”