Richardson Racing remains in top spot in the fight for the Porsche Carrera Cup Benelux title after scoring another victory on a difficult weekend at Zolder.
The Northamptonshire-based team headed for the Belgian circuit the penultimate rounds of the season on the back of a fine weekend at Assen, where Dutch teenager Robert De Haan had scored 53 points from a possible 54 to strengthen his position at the head of the championship standings.
Rob and team-mate Micah Stanley went into round five confident of challenging for silverware, and – having topped unofficial testing – the pair lapped inside the top six on the timesheets in first practice despite not having as many fresh tyres as some of their rivals.
Even though red flags and a full course yellow prevented him from then setting a time on new tyres, the second session would see Rob set the third-fastest time but Micah would find himself in the wars when he was hit by another driver and left down in 13th place.
Things would get worse for Micah when it became apparent that the damage sustained would rule him out of qualifying, and leave him consigned to the back of the grid for both races.
It left Rob to fly the flag and he would battling against more yellow flags that restricted his ability to push to the maximum to qualify on the front row of the grid alongside title rival Glenn van Parijs for race one, with his second fastest lap being good enough for third place for race two.
Rob would settle into second place at the start of race one with Micah immediately moving into the top 20 before the safety car was deployed to allow for the recovery of a stricken car.
Racing resumed on lap four, and Rob wasted little time in diving ahead of van Parijs to grab the lead going into the right-hander at Bolderbergbocht.
Micah’s forward progress continued as he worked his way up to 17th before his race would then come to an abrupt end when he was collected by a car attempting to rejoin after a spin.
Heavy contact would not only force Micah into retirement, but would also put him out of the second race of the weekend – with the team unable to repair the damaged car in time for the start.
With the incident resulting in the action being halted, Rob would then lead the field away for what became a short six-minute dash to the flag, easing clear of van Parijs to secure the win and posting the fastest lap.
Briefly slipping to fourth at the start of race two, Rob reclaimed his podium position before the end of the opening lap, and then went on the attack after an early caution period.
Contact whilst dicing for position would bend a track rod on his car, and left Rob struggling with the handling heading into the final stages – with another incident having backed up the field behind him.
Although he looked set to still salvage a top six finish with his ill-handling car, Rob would instead suffer late disappointment when he was forced off-road by one of his rivals and would end up classified back in 15th place.
With one round of the season left to run, Rob remains 41 points clear of van Parijs in the standings, with 54 still available in the final meeting, whilst he requires just a single point to secure the Rookie title.
Micah Stanley, #5 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, said:
“Things started well with the pace in FP1, but it all went downhill from there through no fault of our own. Being forced to miss qualifying meant we were on the back foot and then having made up places at the start of race one, there was nothing I could do when someone spun and tried to rejoin right in front of me.
“It was a big hit and I’m happy to come away from it with nothing more than some bruising as it could have been much worse. Now I’ll just rest and regroup ahead of the next round.”
Robert De Haan, #46 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, said:
“We didn’t quite manage to show our true pace in qualifying, but P2 and P3 on the grid for the two races meant we were in a good position. We were able to regain control in the first race and it was great to get ahead of Glenn and get the win, with a new lap record as well.
“Race two was unfortunate as we picked up suspension damage from contact and then got forced off track. However, we still lead the championship and will fight hard at the Red Bull Ring in the final rounds to wrap up the title.”