Richardson Racing maintains top spot at Zandvoort

Richardson Racing remains out front in the race to secure the 2023 Porsche Carrera Cup Benelux title after a brace of podium finishes at Zandvoort – including a third win in as many meetings.

The team made the trip to the Netherlands running an expanded three-car line-up, with Gus Burton joining regular pairing Robert De Haan and Micah Stanley for the weekend.

The event started in positive fashion for the trio as Rob topped free practice ahead of Gus, with Micah slotting into P5, although all three drivers would be hampered by a red flag during qualifying.

It left Rob third on the grid for race one, with Gus in fifth and Micah ninth, whilst the second-quickest times would leave them first, sixth and tenth on the grid for race two.

The opening lap of race one would prove to be a dramatic affair, with Rob holding position through the opening corners before going three wide with Benjamin Paque and Flynt Schuring for the lead.

Getting into second spot, Rob then took the lead going into turn one at the start of lap two as Paque braked too late and ran wide, with the young Dutchman – who turned 17 in the lead-up to the weekend – remaining out front until the race was brought to an early end with a red flag. Rob would also set fastest lap by half a second.

Gus would go on the attack at the start but then dropped back to sixth spot when he was run wide midway through lap one. Undeterred, he moved back into fifth when Paque ran off track and was dicing for position with Ariel Levi when the Israeli driver suffered a spin ahead.

Although he was unable to avoid clipping Levi’s car, Gus was able to continue in fifth spot, which is where he was running when the race was halted.

Micah meanwhile had fought his way into the top seven when he was the victim of contact and slipped back to 14th, with the incident that would ultimately end the race preventing him from regaining lost ground.

Rob would find himself shuffled back down the order on the opening lap of race two when he was run wide by title rival Glenn van Parijs and dropped to seventh, although he was able to quickly reclaim two places to run in fifth, with Gus amongst those drivers to take advantage as he moved up into fourth.

After another brief safety car period, Gus quickly cleared Flynt Schuring to move into third place with Rob also getting ahead when Schuring ran wide a lap later – with Micah taking advantage to move into the top eight.

After a further caution period, Rob dived inside Gus at turn one to move into third spot whilst Micah climbed into sixth as he nipped ahead of Lucas van Eijndhoven at turn one and then saw Paul Meijer tipped into a spin ahead.

That triggered another brief safety car, before the action resumed with less than two minutes left on the clock.

Rob would dive down the inside of Paque going into the banked turn three to move into second but as Gus tried to follow him through, Paque turned in – resulting in contact between the pair.

Micah was able to avoid the incident ahead to move into third as Gus attempted to continue with his damaged car only for the race to be red-flagged, and it looked like that was going to mean a double podium finish for the team before the decision was taken to roll the result back a lap.

Even then there would be a sting in the tail, with both Rob and Gus amongst a raft of drivers hit with controversial time penalties for a safety car infringement, which dropped them to a wholly unrepresentative ninth and tenth in class in the lower reaches of the top 20 overall.

However, with Rik Koen also one of the drivers penalised, Micah would end up classified on the podium in third spot for his first podium finish in the series.

Alongside the usual Benelux entry, Richardson Racing would also engineer a car for HRT Performance for the two Carrera Cup Deutschland races to allow Rob to run double duty at his home circuit.

Seventh quickest in free practice, Rob would run second in the early part of qualifying before a red flag hampered his chances of improving his time, and meant he qualified in sixth place for the opening race.

There, an impressive drive saw him battling hard on track with current Porsche Supercup leader Harry King for a place on the podium. Unable to find a way through despite his best efforts, Rob took the flag in fourth place as the leading rookie driver in the field.

Race two however would see the roles reversed, with Rob starting from third place only to lose a spot on the opening lap when he found himself boxed in going through turn one for the first time.

Once again running behind King on track, Rob saw his chance to get ahead after a mid-race safety car and a decisive move saw him nip ahead of the British driver into third spot.

Rob would then ease away from his rival through the closing stages to secure a podium finish and a second rookie win of the weekend, with his results leaving him twelfth in the points despite contesting only two of the six races run so far this season.

The next event for the team will see it make its debut in the Formula One-supporting Mobil 1 Porsche Supercup at Silverstone next month, where Rob will be joined in a two-car entry by Ross Wylie.

Micah Stanley, #5 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, said:
“The weekend started well in practice and I was feeling good in the car, but we struggled to get a lap in in qualifying, which is something I’ve suffered from a bit on the last few races.

“We were unlucky in race one with some contact right before the final safety car period that dropped me back to 14th place, but in race two, I drove sensibly from P10 on the grid and was careful to pick my moves at the right time to avoid any contact in what was a pretty chaotic race.

“After the struggles of race one, to end the weekend with a P3 was a good feeling.”

Gus Burton, #6 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, said:
“I really enjoyed the weekend and loved working with Rob, Micah and the rest of the team. The car was great but I made a mistake in qualifying when I flat-spotted my tyres, which meant we didn’t start as high as we should have done.

“That affected the races and in the first one, I got bullied about a bit by the other drivers. In race two however, I was comfortably able to run in a podium position and was fighting the guys at the front which was a positive on my first visit to the circuit.

“Overall, I’d say it was a good weekend and we’ll see if do more Benelux events in the future.”

Robert De Haan, #46 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, said:
“It was a real mixed weekend for me that ended in disappointing fashion. After missing out on pole position in qualifying, it was great to come through and win on home soil in race one, especially with such a good battle on the first lap.

“Race two was really difficult after being forced off track on lap one and then all the safety cars and I had to push hard to get on the podium. To then have the result taken away afterwards was really frustrating not just for me, but also for the team.

“Racing in the German series meant it was a very busy weekend, and to take two rookie wins and an overall podium in such a competitive series was really positive.”