MOTOR RACING: Castle Bytham team impress on return to track

Andrew Richardson impressed on return to Ginetta Challenge. Photo: Jakob Ebrey
Andrew Richardson impressed on return to Ginetta Challenge. Photo: Jakob Ebrey
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Castle Bytham-based Richardson Racing team showed impressive pace on its return to the Protyre Motorsport Ginetta GT5 Challenge with a front-running performance in the season opener at Brands Hatch.

Having agreed a deal to run youngster Alex Toth-Jones in selected events this season – starting at Thruxton next month – the Lincolnshire-based team elected to take part in the first meeting of the year to gain additional knowledge and experience of it’s new Ginetta G40.

Having spent the last two seasons helping to engineer the team’s single-seater programme, Andrew Richardson made his return to competitive action for the first time in two years but was quickly up to speed.

Despite losing time in traffic during his quick lap in qualifying, Andrew qualified an impressive second on the grid and then brought to the car home to a fifth place finish in race one – a lack of worn wet tyres that were the preferred choice for the track conditions preventing him from pushing for a place on the podium.

From fifth on the grid for race two, Andrew was hopeful of pushing forwards towards the top three places but an incident on the opening lap whilst hunting down the leader saw him forced off into the wall and retirement. Sadly, the incident would also prove to be Andrew’s undoing in race three, with further hidden damage to the rear of the car affecting the handling and leading him to retire for a second time.

Despite the disappointment of a double DNF however, there were plenty of positives for the team to take away from its first weekend with the G40.

“Although the end results weren’t what we hoped for because of the incident in race two, there are a lot of positives we can take away from this weekend,” Andrew reflected. “While other teams have been testing over the winter, our decision to enter the Ginetta Challenge was taken relatively recently, so we went to Brands Hatch with our focus on learning as much about the car as possible rather than chasing outright results.

“Despite that, and the fact I’ve been out of the car for two years, we did well to qualify second on the grid and there is a good chance I could have put the car on pole without traffic on my quick lap.

“To show the pace we did this weekend is very encouraging and whilst we didn’t manage to get to the top step of the podium this time, we’ll work hard to do it with Alex when he gets behind the wheel.”

Andrew will now hand the car over to teenager Toth-Jones for the BTCC supporting rounds at Thruxton in three weeks’ time.

Alongside the Ginetta programme, Richardson Racing continues to test drivers ahead of a planned return to the Ford MSA Formula grid later in the season.