Richardson Racing maintained its stunning form in the Porsche Sprint Challenge Southern Europe with a second successive double win as the all-new series headed for Portugal for round two.
The Corby-based team made the trip to the Autodromo Internacional Algarve near Portimão on the back of a fine weekend at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Spain, where Dutch racer Robert De Haan has grabbed the early championship lead with a double victory, and team-mate Josh Rowledge picked up two solid top eight results to lie seventh in the standings.
Having been the man to beat throughout the opening weekend, Rob once again found himself out front from the moment the Sport Division field – all running the Type 992 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car – hit the track for pre-event testing.
Rob would be quickest in three of the four sessions, setting the fastest time of all in session four, whilst Josh would end Saturday’s running inside the top seven despite a minor off in the morning that would leave him sidelined for the second session.
After a trouble-free run for the pair in free practice, qualifying saw Rob bag a pair of pole positions, becoming the only driver to break into the 1:43s in the second session, where he also set three lap times good enough for pole.
Having scored sixth on the grid amongst the Pro class runners for race one, Josh then qualified eighth in class – and twelfth overall – for race two, with his fastest laps in the two sessions being almost identical.
The opening race of the weekend would be halted after an incident on the first lap, with Rob having slipped to second behind rival Benjamin Paque after contact, but Josh holding station in P6. When the race got back underway, Rob shadowed the leader before making his move on lap seven and set the fastest lap of the race as he grabbed his third victory of the campaign.
Unfortunately for Josh, damage picked up in the early stages would hamper his chances of climbing higher up the order, but he was able to bring the car to the finish in eighth spot.
Race two would prove to be a more straightforward affair for Rob at the front as he maintained his advantage at the start and then eased away from the pack behind. Breaking the lap record as he set the fastest lap for a fourth successive race, and maintaining his 100 per cent record, Rob strengthened his position at the head of the standings with just the Barcelona season finale left to run.
A strong opening lap to the race saw Josh climb up into the top ten overall, and he would lap strongly throughout to take the flag in seventh place.
The final two races of the season at the Circuit de Catalunya will take place on the weekend of 24/25 February.
Josh Rowledge, #10 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, said:
”Valencia was a solid start to the season for me, but unfortunately Portimao was more a case of what might have been. As in round one, I think the speed was there but luck just wasn’t on my side and we couldn’t quite get the results that we know we are capable of.
“Despite that, we brought home points in both races which is the important thing, and hopefully we can be up there and fighting towards the podium when we get to the final round in a few weeks.”
Robert De Haan, #46 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, said:
“After a great start to the season in Spain, Portimao was another fantastic weekend for me and I’m absolutely delighted with the speed we showed and with our level of performance. To come out on top in every session for the second weekend in a row is just mega, and I have to thank the team and everyone around me for their support.
“Having strengthened our lead in the championship, now we can put all of our focus onto the final round in Barcelona and make sure we continue to do the best job possible.”