The Richardson Racing team enjoyed a stunning start to the 2023 season, with a double success in the opening rounds of the new Porsche Sprint Challenge Southern Europe.
The Corby-based team made the trip to the Circuit Ricardo Tormo near Valencia for the first of three meetings that will make up the new series fielding a youthful line-up of Robert De Haan and Josh Rowledge – both of whom were racing a Type 992 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car for the first time.
Pre-event testing on the Friday prior to the event saw both drivers impress, with Rob topping the times in two of the four sessions and Josh joining him at the front in session three as the team secured a one-two on the timesheets.
That pace was carried into free practice on Saturday morning as Rob set the fastest time at the wheel of the #46 car, and Josh slotted into a solid seventh in the #10, less than eight-tenths of a second behind.
With two separate qualifying sessions used to determine the grid for the two races, Rob maintained his stunning form at the front as he stormed to a double pole position – setting two laps good enough for pole for race one, and three that would have headed the field for race two.
Josh was able to grab a second row start for the opening race having gone fourth fastest, and would then line up in eighth spot for race two – albeit with a lap time that was only two-tenths of a second off repeating his earlier result.
Building a lead of just under a second on the opening lap of race one, Rob was able to control proceedings from the front as he eased away from second placed Benjamin Paque to secure a comfortable win, scoring the fastest lap of the race in the process.
A mature drive from Josh saw him embroiled in a three-way dice with Sebastian Freymuth and Flynt Schuring throughout before he crossed the line in fourth place, although an unfortunate five-second penalty for exceeding track limits would lead to him being classified in fifth.
A dominant drive in race two saw Rob complete a perfect weekend as he once again led every lap – and posted the fastest lap – en-route to victory by more than 20 seconds.
Josh meanwhile would lose two spots on the opening lap of the race after contact in the pack, but would show solid pace throughout the 18 laps to retain his place through to the finish – eventually being classified in seventh place as a result of penalties elsewhere.
Josh Rowledge, #10 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, said:
”I’m really pleased with how my debut weekend went in the Porsche as it is a big step up from the Ginetta I have been racing. To achieve a top five in both qualifying and the opening race showed the potential we have with more time in the car.
”It was a shame that we picked up some damage on lap one of the second race as it limited my progress, but overall I’m really happy with how the weekend went and I feel it’s given me a platform to build on going forwards.”
Robert De Haan, #46 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, said:
“It was great to be back with the team again after our success together in Ginettas, and my first weekend in the Porsche couldn’t really have gone any better. To qualify on pole and then win both races was absolutely fantastic, and a mega way for me to kick off 2023.
“I really have to say thank you to the team and to everyone who has supported me for making this possible, and I’m confident that there is a lot more still to come!”