The Richardson Racing team will enter the Ginetta Junior Championship’s summer break on a high after a strong weekend at Croft that yielded three podium finishes.
The Corby-based squad headed for North Yorkshire ready to fight towards the sharp end of the grid, with drivers Luke Browning, James Taylor, Matt Luff and Emily Linscott all targeting a strong end to the first half of the year.
Qualifying saw Luke post the third quickest time, with James the best placed of the rookie drivers in sixth, and Matt and Emily qualifying in 13th and 15th on the grid.
Both Luke and James were able to make up a place before the race got underway thanks to a grid penalty for pole sitter Ruben del Sarte, but Luke found himself dropping back into third spot after the opening lap having lost a spot to Fin Green.
Battling hard, Luke was able to reclaim second spot but was then forced to pit when he ran wide and hit a bump on the edge of the circuit, which caused the left rear tyre to come off the rim. He would rejoin and finish the race in 19th spot.
From fifth on the grid, James maintained his position on the opening lap before being demoted back to eighth in the tight midfield pack, but a fine recovery saw him climb back up to fourth going into the final lap. When one of the cars ahead then suffered a spin at Tower, James swept through to take his first overall podium finish as second best rookie.
It would also prove to be a strong opening race for both Matt and Emily as they battled hard to move up the order from their starting positions.
Matt’s drive was particularly impressive as he fought his way into the top ten within two laps and eventually crossed the line in seventh place, whilst Emily maintained her recent run of solid results as she emerged from a chaotic final lap with tenth place.
The second race of the weekend would see Luke bounce back from his earlier disappointment with a solid second place, with James going close to the rookie win in sixth overall – just behind rival Patrick Kibble after a race long battle.
As had been the case in race one, Matt made the most of his strong pace to fight his way forwards to tenth place although Emily saw her chances of a strong finish ended by a contact that forced her to pit on the penultimate lap to have a loose bonnet fixed – dropping her to 17th place.
With three races taking place in North Yorkshire, the quartet had one final chance to impress, with Luke again repeating his race two result with an eighth podium finish of the campaign and James again crossing the line as third best of the rookies.
Matt would fall just shy of a third top ten finish of the weekend in eleventh whilst Emily battled hard against damage caused by contact on the opening lap as she crossed the line 14th.
At the mid-way point of the campaign, Luke sits in third place in the standings with James in seventh – and third best rookie. Matt sits just outside the top ten in eleventh with Emily in 14th.
Luke Browning, #11 (Kingsley, Cheshire), said
“A pair of podium finishes is a good way to end the weekend as it’s important for the championship that we keep picking up the points and outscoring Adam [Smalley] as much as we can – like in race three.
“It’s a shame that we lost a certain podium with the puncture in race one but bad luck like that is just part of motorsport and at least we were able to recover from it in the races that followed.
“We’ve certainly had some highs and lows in the opening half of the year but we’ve shown how quick we are and my focus is firmly on challenging for the title after the summer break.”
James Taylor, #66 (Rotherham, Yorkshire), said
“I’m delighted with the way the weekend has gone. To get onto the overall podium is a fantastic feeling, especially as it came at my home circuit.
“The opening race of the weekend has been a massive boost to my confidence and I showed in all three races that I can run with the front pack.
“It’s been a mega season for me so far and I’m so happy that I’ve achieved my aim of a podium before we even got to the half way point. It wasn’t easy at the start but I think I’m now starting to show people what I can do.”
Matt Luff, #72 (Romford, Essex), said
“Croft was always going to be a tough weekend given the fact I’ve not been here for twelve months – it’s probably one of the most difficult circuits to go to without testing.
“Qualifying proved to be difficult but I was really pleased to come through to seventh in race one and we also had a good run in race two. Race three was unlucky as I made a mega start but then got shuffled back and had to work my way through to eleventh again.
“Overall, I’d say it’s been a tricky opening half of the year for me because my deal all came together so late. Hopefully we can go out and do some testing during the summer and come out stronger at Snetterton.”
Emily Linscott, #99 (Langdon Hills, Essex), said
“I was really pleased with the way the first two races went and I felt I drove well. It was good to get into the top ten in the first one and it was just a shame about the damage that meant I had to pit in race two.
“Even though the car was a bit battered in race three, I feel I drove well again and did the best that I could – it was just one of those things that you have to deal with sometimes.
“Overall I’m happy with the way the weekend went and I think I’ve continued to improve after a tough start to the season. I’m confident that we can continue to make progress in the second half of the year.”