Richardson Racing maintained its impressive start to the 2023 season with victory as the Porsche Carrera Cup GB headed to Brands Hatch for the second meeting of the year.
The Northamptonshire-based team made the trip to the famous Kent circuit looking to add to wins at Donington Park and Spa over the course of the previous two weekends, with the team running parallel programmes in both the GB series and Carrera Cup Benelux this year.
Pre-event testing showed how competitive the weekend would be around the short Indy circuit, with Pro Class pairing Robert De Haan and Micah Stanley setting the first and third best times in the second session – where 19 cars were covered by less than a second.
Returning to action for his second outing of the year in the Pro-Am class, Seb Melrose was eleventh quickest in his category as he continued to acclimatise to the Type 992 911 GT3 Cup car.
The dry conditions from practice were replaced by rain for Saturday’s qualifying session, where it looked like Rob was set to take pole with an early lap that put him at the head of the field. The Dutch ace would remain out front until the final seconds when he was knocked off top spot by just 0.001s, although it still left him to start race one from the front row of the grid.
A tough session for Micah saw him in an unrepresentative ninth in class and 14th overall, with Seb losing out when a number of his class rivals improved late on to line up twelfth in Pro-Am and 23rd overall.
With the rain having cleared for Sunday’s racing, the trio hit the track for the opening 34 lap encounter, and a perfect start for Rob saw him rocket into the lead on the run to Paddock Hill Bend.
After an early caution period to recover a car from the gravel, he was able to control proceedings from the front to secure a comfortable win, setting the fastest lap as he took the flag more than five seconds clear of his nearest rival.
With work to do after qualifying, Micah made a strong start to jump up to tenth spot on the opening lap and then pushed hard to fight ahead of Max Bird following the restart to move into ninth overall.
Chasing down Hugo Ellis ahead, Micah saw his chance to grab eighth overall and seventh in class going into Clearways, a position he would hold to the finish.
On what we his first dry race in the car, Seb produced a solid drive as he overcame some small errors whilst dicing for position with Henry Dawes to finish tenth in class and 19th overall – setting a best lap that was quicker than he had managed in Friday’s test.
The grid for race two would see Rob lining up on the second row in fourth thanks to the reverse grid, and he held station through the opening laps before making a move for third on Adam Smalley going up to Druids on lap three.
Taking the outside line, Rob was forced wide onto the grass on the run down to Graham Hill Bend but managed to get ahead of his rival and then slid down the inside of Charles Rainford into second just as a safety car was called to recover a stricken car from the circuit.
On the restart, Rob wasted little time in clearing James Kellett to grab the lead and then raced away from the field to grab a comfortable win by more than seven seconds – setting the fastest lap for the second race in a row.
Unfortunately, Rob was then handed a penalty post-race to put him back behind Rainford in the results after it was deemed that his lap three move had been completed when safety car boards were on display. Whilst the judicial hearing agreed that there were mitigating circumstances as a result of Robert recovering from the grass, and that the overtake had been unfortunate timing, the two place penalty dropped him to third in the overall results.
From eighth on the grid, Micah made up a spot on the opening lap and then became embroiled in a huge fight for sixth with Theo Edgerton, eventually taking the place with a fine move into Surtees late on.
Seb’s progress in the car continued as he fought his way to 17th overall, allowing him to put his first points on the board as he clinched seventh in the Pro-Am class.
With a small break now before the next event at Thruxton in early June, Rob sits second in the standings and leads the Rookie Cup, with Micah sitting in seventh. Seb holds eleventh in Pro-Am, with Richardson Racing a handful of points off top spot in the Entrants Championship – which it is bidding to win for a second successive season.
Micah Stanley, #5 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (Pro), said:
“Qualifying was a bit of a disappointment as I made a few mistakes when the tyres were at their best and 14th was lower than I expected to be, so it was all about recovering in the races.
“We had a good start in race one but then spent a bit of time battling to get ahead of Bird and a good move on Ellis helped me to climb to eighth. To then make up ground to sixth in race two was really pleasing as its hard to make moves round here when you are running in dirty air.
“We’ve been strong in the races so far, but I think we have a bit of work to do in qualifying so we are starting higher up the order. After a busy start, we’ve got a few weeks now to relax, and then we can focus on the races to come.”
Robert De Haan, #46 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (Pro), said:
“It’s been another really good weekend. I couldn’t have really got much closer to pole position in qualifying, but I got the lead at the start and was able to pull a gap at the front after the safety car. It wasn’t a very busy race at the front, but I was really pleased to get another win and set the fastest lap.
“From P4 on the grid in race two, I saw the two cars in front fighting as we went through turn one and made a move on Smalley on the outside going into Druids. I got forced wide on the exit and then as I came back on and got on the brakes, I got ahead of Charles.
“It’s only then that I saw the safety car boards as there was so much going on, and it’s a shame to lose the win – but we showed how quick we were to build the lead we had. To have won twice in two rounds, and also in Benelux last weekend, is great and beyond the expectations I had, and I’ll take the same approach into the next race at Thruxton.”
Seb Melrose, #88 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (Pro-Am), said:
“Qualifying on Saturday was a bit bittersweet for me as I put in a really good time on the first run, but then other drivers bolted on new tyres for the second run which knocked me down a few places.
“The races were a new challenge because it was my first time racing the car in the dry and I really had my work cut out a bit. I gained places in race one but then got backed up behind Henry and a few small mistakes dropped me back.
“To get my first Pro-Am points on the board in race two was great and it was another tricky race as the heat and needing to manage the drop off the tyres meant it was like an endurance racing stint!
“With my deal being so late, I’m still learning but it’s going well so far and I want to keep developing so I can push forwards.”