The Richardson Racing team enjoyed another fine weekend in the Ginetta Junior Championship at Donington Park, with two wins from three races and a move into the championship lead.
The Corby based team went into the second meeting of the season in confident mood, with drivers Luke Browning, Matt Luff, James Taylor and Emily Linscott looking to build on their respective results at Brands Hatch.
Pre-event testing at the East Midlands circuit saw James leading the way as he topped the times, but it was Luke who would head the team’s challenge in qualifying as he secured second on the grid in tricky wet conditions.
Matt lined up directly behind in fourth after his best qualifying performance in the series to date, with ninth for James and 13th for Emily also marking new PBs.
The opening race of the weekend would prove to be one of contrasting fortunes, with Matt and Emily both forced to retire on the opening lap after finding themselves stuck in the gravel at the Old Hairpin.
It left Luke and James to fly the flag for the team, with Luke emerging on top of a race long battle with Adam Smalley and Louis Foster to take his second win of the season. James meanwhile recovered from a slow start that saw him drop down outside the top ten to cross the line in ninth place.
Race two would again see Luke emerge victorious as he controlled things from the front of the field, but behind, Matt and James would enjoy their strongest races to date as they battled hard for fourth place.
Ginetta Scholarship winner James had battled his way forwards from tenth on the grid to lie fourth shortly after the half way point of the twelve lap race, with Matt putting him under increasing pressure behind as the laps counted down.
Matt would eventually find a way through on the final lap to take the place, with James following him home in fifth as second best of the rookies; the overall results being a personal best for both drivers.
Emily looked set to join them in the top ten after a storming opening lap that saw her vault into the top ten but contact on lap two saw her lose valuable time and drop to the rest of the field. Undeterred, she got her head down and got quicker as the race wore on as she recovered to 15th at the finish.
The final race of the weekend would see Luke add to his podium tally with a fine second place after a long battle with first time winner Louis Foster, whilst James recovered from being forced across the grass on lap two to finish seventh.
Matt had taken a starring role in one of the most dramatic moments of the race whilst dicing in the pack as he ran three wide through the high-speed Craner Curves in a bid to take a place on the podium before running wide at the Old Hairpin – with penalties handed out for exceeding track limits leaving him in an unrepresentative ninth place.
Emily meanwhile endured a challenging end to a tough weekend when, having fought her way up to 13th, a spin half way through the race would see her ultimately end the race in 18th place.
“It’s been a fantastic weekend for our Junior drivers,” team boss Gwyn Richardson said. “I’m delighted for the drivers and the team as they all did an outstanding job.
“Luke’s continued race winning form sees him justifiably leading the standings by a healthy margin, but all four drivers showed the pace they are capable of achieving and there were some career best results for them.
“It’s only a couple of weeks to the next rounds at Thruxton and I’m really looking forward to seeing how they continue to develop.”
Luke Browning, #11 (Kingsley, Cheshire), said
“I’m elated with the way the weekend has gone. The first and second races couldn’t have been much better and it was fantastic to show that our performance at Brands Hatch wasn’t just a one off. In the final race, I was aware that Adam [Smalley, title rival] had retired and I didn’t want to do anything stupid whilst fighting for the lead because it was important to score the points towards the championship.
“To come away from the weekend with a 21 point lead in the standings is really good and my confidence is growing and growing. Three wins on the bounce is a great achievement this early in the season and we are building good momentum that we have to try and maintain when we go to Thruxton.”
James Taylor, #66 (Rotherham, Yorkshire), said
“It’s been a good weekend and I’m really pleased with the pace I have shown. The highlight was the rookie podium in race two and I think we could have had a good result in race three as well if I hadn’t been forced off at the final corner.
“Overall though, I think I’ve taken a real step forwards at Donington. I felt more relaxed in the car and didn’t have the nerves that I was feeling at Brands Hatch on my debut. Watching the onboard footage with the team, you could see I was less on edge and I think my speed reflected that.
“I’m looking forward to Thruxton and hopefully we can have a good weekend there.”
Matt Luff, #72 (Romford, Essex), said
“Overall it’s been a better weekend that at Brands Hatch and I feel we have shown some good pace that we can try and build on. Race one was a disappointment, but to come through from eleventh to finish P4 in race two was great and showed my speed. Even with the track limits penalty in race three, we’ve still brought home a top ten finish and I’m going away from this weekend with a lot more confidence.
“This was where my season really started as my lack of pre-season running meant Brands Hatch was almost like a test session for me. With more time in the car, I think I’ve shown what I can do now I’m finding my rhythm again and I’m hoping to have a strong weekend when we get to Thruxton.”
Emily Linscott, #99 (Langdon Hills, Essex), said
“It has been a tough weekend for me but unfortunately they happen sometimes and there isn’t anything I can do to change it. After the incident in race one, I was hoping for a better time in race two but after a good start, I was forced onto the grass and it was hard to recover in the wet conditions.
“In race three I have to hold my hands up that I just carried a bit too much speed into a corner whilst fighting for position and had a spin that cost me time. It’s not how I wanted things to go, but I’ll put this one behind me and stay positive going to Thruxton for the next round.”