Richardson Racing enjoyed a winning start to life in the Porsche Carrera Cup Benelux after an impressive showing during the opening weekend of the new campaign at the famous Spa Francorchamps circuit.
The Northamptonshire-based team headed to the home of the Belgian Grand Prix on the back of a victorious weekend at Donington Park during the opening rounds of the Carrera Cup GB, with Robert de Haan and Micah Stanley getting their European programmes underway.
After a fruitful test at the circuit earlier in the month during the series’ official season launch, both drivers were confident about their chances on track and showed strong pace during Thursday’s official practice sessions.
Rob would post the quickest time during the second session with a lap more than six-tenths of a second faster than anyone else, with Micah in a solid P7 having gone more than two seconds quicker than in the first session of the weekend.
Friday’s qualifying session however would provide a fresh challenge as the pair were faced with wet and changeable conditions, with Rob having to settle for third on the grid for the opening race and Micah in an unrepresentative 14th in the Pro class and 15th overall – both drivers losing out as a result of a red flag early on that prevented either from setting their times when the track was at its optimum.
When the lights went out for the opening race later in the day, Rob was able to hold on to third spot going through La Source for the first time before grabbing second spot from Keagan Masters at Les Combes.
After a brief safety car period, Rob briefly managed to get ahead of leader Glenn Van Parijs going into turn one only for his Belgian rival to edge back ahead on the exit of the corner, with Rob maintaining second before the safety car was deployed once again – remaining on track until the clock hit zero and the race drew to a close.
From his position on row eight of the grid, Micah enjoyed a stunning opening lap to rocket up the order into the top ten, making up an astonishing seven places to end lap one already sitting in eighth spot.
An impressive cut-back move exiting La Source at the start of lap six saw him grab seventh from Dirk Schouten and he was involved in a huge battle for position with Paul Meijer before the second safety car brought that fight to an early end.
With the grid for race determined by second quickest times in qualifying, Rob lined up in second spot but managed to go around the outside of poleman Masters at turn one – completing the move for the lead on the run down to Eau Rouge.
Despite an early caution period that eradicated his lead, Rob was able to hold station at the front and managed his wet tyres well on a drying circuit to take a comfortable victory by a margin of more than eight seconds.
Micah would line up in P12 in the Pro class and 13th overall, with the Monaco-based racer once again on the move in the early stages as he avoided a spinning car at the Bus Stop to climb up into tenth spot.
Although he would briefly slip back to eleventh, Micah would remain in tenth spot right through to the finish despite being run wide at Les Combes on the final lap – forcing him to run across the escape road before rejoining.
Micah was then promoted into ninth place in the final results due to a penalty for one of the drivers ahead for exceeding track limits.
The next round of the Benelux series takes place on the weekend of 9-11 June at Hockenheim, with Rob and Micah returning to action in the British series next weekend at Brands Hatch.
Micah Stanley, #5 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, said:
“The weekend started well in testing but qualifying didn’t go to plan thanks to a combination of traffic and the changeable conditions, which meant we didn’t quite manage to maximise our package.
“I was really pleased with the first race and to make up so many places was really good, although I struggled a bit with the rear tyres in race two which meant we didn’t really show our true potential and couldn’t make the most of the pace we had shown in race one.
“However, it’s been a really fun weekend overall racing on one of the top circuits in Europe, and has also helped me to learn even more about the car to help me going forwards.”
Robert de Haan, #46 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, said:
“Considering it was our first weekend in Carrera Cup Benelux, I think it went really well and the whole team did a fantastic job. Although I have been to Spa before in F4, racing the Porsche was totally different so I had to learn a lot and the fact we had been able to test before at the media day really helped.
“We could have won the first race as we had a quick car, so to then win race two was great in very tricky conditions. When you got off the drying line it was very slippery even with wet tyres on the car, and it was much more difficult that I expected it to be.
“It’s good to come away with a race win and we’ve scored good points this weekend. Hopefully we can keep it up as the season goes on.”