Richardson Racing enjoyed a fine start to the new Porsche Carrera Cup GB season in difficult conditions at Donington Park, securing a first win of the 2023 season in record-breaking fashion.
The team headed for the East Midlands circuit with a new-look line-up comprising of Porsche Sprint Challenge Southern Europe title winner Robert De Haan and Carrera Cup regular Micah Stanley in the Pro class, and series newcomer Seb Melrose in the Pro-Am category after he agreed an eleventh-hour deal to join the defending teams’ champions.
Following two days of official testing ahead of the weekend, the trio went into the opening two races of the campaign in optimistic mood and it was Rob who led the way in qualifying he put the #46 car third on the grid for race one – little over a tenth of a second away from pole.
The Dutch racer wasted little time in moving to the front during the opening lap in tricky wet conditions before being overhauled by Adam Smalley on lap two, but he played the patient game and ran second until lap 15 when he reclaimed top spot at the chicane as the circuit dried.
From there, he kept Smalley at bay for victory in the first race – despite a late safety car period – becoming the youngest winner in series history in the process at just 16-years-old.
Fifth on the grid for race two, Rob was dicing for a place on the podium when he hit standing water at Craner Curves and dropped to the back of the field, eventually recovering to finish 18th overall and tenth in class – lapping consistently as the fastest driver on track despite damage to his car.
A tricky qualifying session for Micah left him to start race one from tenth in class and 15th overall, but he battled well in the drying conditions to work his way up into the overall top ten and grab seventh in class.
The forward momentum would then continue in race two, with a storming start seeing him vault up into fifth place on the opening lap. Running towards the sharp end throughout, Micah grabbed fourth place from Hugo Ellis four laps from the chequered flag to secure his best result in the series to date – despite contact that hampered the handling of the car.
The late nature of Seb’s deal meant he was very much in at the deep end on his first weekend, with a focus on trying to bring the car to the finish in both races.
Having qualified twelfth in class and 23rd overall, Seb put in a solid drive in the opening race having never driven the Porsche in damp conditions before, overcoming a slight error that saw him take a trip through the gravel at McLeans to finish inside the overall top twenty and ninth in the Pro-Am class.
A similar result followed in race two as he gained valuable experience of the car in wet conditions, with his focus now on pushing forwards in the events to come.
The team now heads for Spa for the opening round of the Porsche Carrera Cup Benelux this weekend with Rob and Micah, with the next outing in the Carrera Cup GB coming at Brands Hatch in two weeks time.
Micah Stanley, #5 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (Pro), said:
“I didn’t qualify as high as I was hoping but we were able to make progress in both races and fight our way forwards, which was positive. Race one was a good start to the weekend considering it was my first race in a long time and it just took a little time to get used to the conditions. After the safety car, the pace was really strong and it was a fun race.
“To then come through to take fourth was really good and I had a mega start to make up places. We had a bit of contact that affected the performance of the car but to come from where we were on the grid and finish just off the podium is a positive start to the season, and gives me a solid base to work from. Huge thanks to the team for doing a mega job.”
Robert De Haan, #46 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (Pro), said:
“I made a small error in qualifying that stopped me from fighting for pole, but it was great to come through and win race one. The track was drying and we were on wet tyres so we had to be careful about them overheating, and I was able to manage it well and get ahead of Adam as we had the pace on him later in the race.
“We were really quick in the wet in race two and the car felt amazing but when I went for a move at the Craner Curves, I just hit some water and ended up on the grass. When it’s wet like that, there is nothing you can do and I just hoped that no one would collect me.
“I was the quickest car on track when I rejoined so it’s a shame I couldn’t show that with the result, but we’ll come back stronger – starting next week when we head for Spa.”
Seb Melrose, #88 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (Pro-Am), said:
“The racing driver inside me wanted more from the weekend, but I know I can’t be too hard on myself because a week ago, I didn’t even know I was going to be racing here. The deal was very late and I only got in the car for the first time on Tuesday, so round one was a huge learning curve for me – particularly with the weather in the races.
“I do enjoy those conditions and the opening race was fun even though I made a small mistake at McLeans, but that is all part of the learning process. I was a little frustrated in race two as I felt I had more to give and wasn’t at the limit of the car but that will come with time, and the important thing is I come away from this weekend with the car all in one piece and with two finishes under my belt.”