Richardson Racing enjoyed a dream debut in the Mobil 1 Porsche Supercup with a stunning podium finish in the British Grand Prix support race at Silverstone, laying down a marker as to what it can do in one of the most prestigious one-make championships in global motorsport.
Ahead of a planned move into the series in 2024, the Northamptonshire-based team joined the Supercup field as a guest entry for the third round of the year, with team regular Robert de Haan joined by Porsche Carrera Cup GB racer Ross Wylie in a two-car line-up.
With no opportunity to test ahead of the weekend as a result of a busy racing programme in both the UK and Europe, and the fact that Rob was undertaking exams at school, Friday’s sole free practice session took on added importance for both drivers as they looked to get up to speed around the iconic Silverstone Grand Prix layout.
Despite being at a disadvantage due to the fact that they had fewer tyres than the series regulars, a productive session would see the pair complete a combined total of 35 laps, with Rob – sampling the GP circuit for the first time – ending up with the 19th fastest time and Ross just two-tenths of a second behind in 20th.
The work carried out on Friday would pay dividends when qualifying then came around the following day, with Rob going more than a second and a half quicker to secure tenth place on the grid.
Ross would also improve his practice time by over a second, as he secured 20th place on the timesheets for the 14-lap race – putting him ahead of his regular Pro-Am rivals from the British series.
In front of a record-breaking crowd settling in ready for the latest round of the F1 season, the two drivers took their place on the grid for the start – but few could have predicted the drama that was to follow.
A solid launch saw Rob maintain his position when the lights went out but as the field then headed up to Village for the first time, an incident ahead saw the leading four drivers run off-track.
Not only was Rob able to avoid the drama ahead, he was also able to sweep his way around the outside of a number of his rivals to take the inside line into the following left-hander leading onto the Wellington Straight – emerging in a stunning second place.
From that point on, the Dutch teenager pushed hard to try and find a way ahead of leader Alexander Fach although the close nature of the fight at the front was reflected by the fact that the pair would end the race having set identical fastest laps, even though Rob was forced to deal with the aero-wash from following his rival.
Keeping Fach honest throughout, Rob would also fend off pressure from Alessandro Ghiretti behind to take the flag as runner-up, adding more silverware to his ever-growing collection.
On his first appearance in the series – and as part of the Richardson Racing line-up – Ross was able to avoid the incident ahead on lap one to immediately make up places and would run solidly in the midfield pack throughout the race.
A frenetic battle with fellow Briton Gus Burton and Porsche Junior driver Adam Smalley ended with Ross taking the flag in 16th place for an impressive result of his own, beating his regular Carrera Cup GB rivals who had all had chance to attend the pre-event test.
Ross Wylie, #37 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, said:
“It’s been a brilliant weekend and I had such a great time on my debut with the Richardson Racing team. They provided me with a fantastic car and it was one of the best experiences I have had in the last 20 years of racing. To line up on the grid in front of so many British fans is something I will cherish for a long time, and to come away with a midfield finish is something to be proud of.
“I felt the pace we showed was really good and we were up against some of the best drivers in the world – so to finish where we did in our first race was hugely encouraging. Special congratulations also to Rob, as to come away with a podium finish was just brilliant.”
Robert de Haan, #38 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, said:
“We know we have been quick in Carrera Cup GB and Carrera Cup Benelux this season but I didn’t know what to expect on my Supercup debut and didn’t want to put a lot of pressure on myself worrying about the result.
“Qualifying went well to start inside the top ten and when the dust all settled after the first few corners, I somehow found myself up in second place! The pace between me, Alex and Alessandro was very similar and I tried to push Alex into making a mistake, but it wasn’t to be.
“However, to come away from the weekend with a P2 finish is brilliant, and something I’ll remember for a long time.”