Comline Richardson Racing secured title glory in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB in dramatic fashion at Brands Hatch, with a super human effort from the team being key to success in the Teams’ Championship standings.
The Corby-based team made the trip to the famous Brands Grand Prix circuit sitting pretty at the stop of the standings, although Will Martin’s hopes of wrapping up the overall drivers championship had been left hanging by a thread after on track contact in the previous event at Silverstone.
Friday testing saw Will on the pace towards the front of the fields as he set the third quickest time, with team-mate Jack Bartholomew – in only his second event back after sustaining serious injuries in a cycling accident – setting the 15th best time.
Qualifying on Saturday afternoon would leave both drivers with work to do for the opening race of the weekend, with Will securing the sixth quickest time and Jack lining up on the fifth row in the grid in P10.
A good start from Will saw him move up into fourth when the lights went out, with Jack holding his position as the field headed onto the Grand Prix loop for the first time.
An incident further down the order then resulted in the safety car being summoned, but just as the call went out, Will found himself being run off the road at Westfield by Theo Edgerton – dropping him back down to eleventh to all but end his slim hopes of beating Kiern Jewiss to the title.
Jack would be promoted up into eighth spot as a result of the clash, with the race then getting back underway on lap eight. As Jack looked to consolidate his position, Will was trying to make up ground when further contact from Edgerton going through Paddock Hill Bend tipped him into a high-speed spin – his car travelling backwards at speed into the tyres on the inside of the circuit before going over the barriers and coming to rest on catch fencing protecting a marshals post.
Luckily, both Will and the trackside marshals were able to escape injury, with the race immediately red-flagged. With no further action taking place, Jack would be be classified in eighth place.
Despite Will’s stricken car being left suspended in mid-air following the accident and seemingly done for the day, it became clear when returned to the paddock that the damage could be repaired for race two, with a herculean effort from the team ensuring that he was able to head out to take his place alongside Jack on the grid with just seconds to spare.
A solid opening lap saw both drivers avoid a clash ahead at Druids to move up into sixth and seventh, with Will moving ahead of Jack on lap two and being followed through by Gus Burton.
Will then battled ahead of Micah Stanley on lap six to grab fifth place, with Stanley then spinning off after contact from Burton that allowed Jack to nip past the pair to run in sixth.
After two laps under caution, the race resumed, with Jack seeking to protect Will from Burton – his closest rival for third in the championship standings. His defence would on lap eleven however, when contact from Burton at Stirling’s broke the steering on his car and forced him to retire.
That left Will alone on track needing to score the points required to ensure that the team was able to hold on to the lead of the Teams’ Championship and although he would slip back to sixth when the race ended behind the safety car after another incident, that was enough to secure the title by just nine points.
It also ensured that Will secured third in the championship standings, with Jack ending the year in ninth – one place behind Josh Malin, who stepped into his car for three meetings during his injury-enforced lay off.
Will Martin, #10 Richardson Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, said:
“The shunt in the first race was absolutely massive but I think I was lucky to go in backwards and then ride up the barrier as I did, because it took a lot of the energy away from me. We were lucky that no-one else was hurt when I did go over the tyres and as I was looking down at the ground from seven feet up in the air, I thought it was weekend over.
“When I went off to the medical centre to get checked over, I didn’t know if the chassis had been damaged but when it was clear that it wasn’t bent or twisted, I knew we had a chance as I’ve seen these guys work miracles before.
“They’ve done a perfect job all year and they pulled it out of the bag once again to get me out on track for race two, and that is the reason why we were able to win the Teams’ Championship, which is a fantastic achievement for us.
“It’s been a pleasure to work with the team again this year and although third isn’t what I came here for on a personal level, I can go away knowing that I dropped out of contention for reasons that were outside my control, and I’m pleased with how I have performed.”
Jack Bartholomew, #89 Richardson Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, said:
“I made a bit of a hash of qualifying as we had the pace to be in the top five, and then in race one, it was just good to see everyone involved in the various incidents come out unscathed. We made up a few places which I guess was the best of a bad situation when there were only a handful of racing laps.
“In race two, I finally made a good start to jump from eighth to fifth but then made a small error that meant I lost a few spots and I was sitting behind Will to help him in terms of the points but then I got a big smack in the side that damaged the steering and that was game over.
“It’s never nice to end the season with a DNF but there are positives to take away from the weekend and to even be back racing after the accident I suffered is a win in itself. I’ve learned a lot this year, including how aggressive the racing is, but I feel I’ve shown I can hold my own and it was nice to get some silverware earlier in the year.
“I’d have liked more, but missing half of the season injured meant that was always going to be tough, although it’s great that we’ve been able to secure the Teams’ Championship.”
Andrew Richardson, team manager, said:
“Will’s car going back out is the reason why we have won the Teams’ Championship after Jack got knocked off into retirement in that final race – we’d have lost by a point otherwise. The guys did a cracking effort to get that and it was because they did a phenomenal job that we have won the title; it’s down to them.
“The last two weekends haven’t gone as they should have done for reasons outside our control, and I think people can see that we didn’t lose the drivers title. We were right in contention until incidents that took place and it’s unfortunate for Will and we all feel the disappointment that he feels at not being able to claim the drivers championship.
“Will has done a fantastic job this year but we’re lucky that in Jack – who has battled so hard to recover from injuries that should have ruled him out for the rest of the season – and our supersub Josh Malin, we’ve had two drivers who have been able to secure results that were ahead of the less experienced driver in every other team.
“They are both extremely quick drivers, and we have to thank them for their efforts alongside Will as all three of them have contributed towards our success as a team.”