Richardson Racing secured a brace of rookie class podium finishes from the opening rounds of the new Michelin Ginetta Junior Championship season at Thruxton.
The Corby-based team headed for the high-speed Hampshire circuit fielding an all-new line-up for the 2021 campaign, with Ginetta Junior Scholarship winner Robert De Haan joined by fellow series rookies Edward Pearson and Oliver Flashman.
On the back of a busy programme of testing, the Thruxton season opener marked the car racing debut for all three drivers and free practice saw Robert post an encouraging fifth fastest time at the wheel of the #46 entry. Edward would end up 15th quickest with Oliver in 21st in tricky wet conditions, with confidence high going into qualifying.
Although still wet, conditions had improved by the time qualifying came around and all three drivers would better their times from earlier in the day. Robert would qualify eleventh despite his lap being only a tenth of a second off seventh spot, with Edward lining up in 18th spot and Oliver set for his debut from 26th on the grid.
The opening race of the weekend would be run in dry conditions on Sunday morning, with Robert making up places to seventh on the opening lap before the safety car was deployed to back up the field as a car was removed from the circuit.
After the restart, the Dutch racer battled hard in the pack and a frenetic fight would end with the Ginetta Junior Scholarship winner crossing the line in ninth spot, securing debut silverware as the second best of the rookies.
Although he lost places in the early squabbles – not helped by being forced to take avoiding action on lap one – Edward recovered back through to 20th place by the finish, whilst Oliver also made up places from where he had started as he secured P25.
Starting race two from eighth spot on the grid, Robert would quickly jump up into the top four and was part of a frantic battle for victory throughout the nine lap race. Swapping places with his rivals lap-by-lap, he would cross the line in fourth spot overall and second best rookie.
Edward would line up in 20th place on the grid and held position through the opening lap despite being slow away from the line. From there however, he battled well inside the pack to edge his forwards to take his best finish of the weekend in 17th.
Oliver by contrast enjoyed a storming opening lap to rocket up the order from 25th to 18th, and he was well placed to secure a top 20 finish before an unfortunate spin on the penultimate lap dropped him back to an unrepresentative 24th – the consolation being that his fastest lap was nearly a second quicker than in race one.
The trio now have a short break before the next round at Snetterton on the weekend of 12/13 June, where Richardson Racings British F4 and Porsche Carrera Cup GB campaigns will also get underway.
Oliver Flashman (Benfleet, Essex) – #17 Ginetta G40:
“I think I could have done better in terms of the results but this was a learning weekend. In race one I just wanted to get a finish under my belt and in race two, I made up loads of places but then had an unfortunate spin towards the end.
“Racing and testing are two different things so this was my first chance to get out there racing with the rest of the field and it was an amazing experience. Now I have this weekend behind me, I can focus on improving next time out at Snetterton and I’m looking forward to it.”
Edward Pearson (Guildford, Surrey) – #41 Ginetta G40:
“Qualifying could have gone better but we know why and the main focus this weekend was really all about learning how to race. It’s been tough but also a good learning curve and there is plenty I can take away from round one.
“It’s good to have been able to pull off some good overtaking moves across the two races as it isn’t easy to pass round here and it was a tough circuit to start with. Everything considered, I’m happy with how it has gone.”
Robert De Haan (Eerbeek, Netherlands) – #46 Ginetta G40:
“This has been a hard circuit to start on because it is so quick – you’re flat out on the straights and in the corners! However, I’m really happy with my results when this is my first weekend in the car, and to finish in fourth overall in race two was fantastic.
“Two rookie podiums is a good start and I hope to soon fight for an overall podium finish as we aren’t far away at the moment. I’ll keep pushing to do the best that I can in the next round.”