Triple MSA Formula top twelve for Richardson Racing at Thruxton

The Richardson Racing team secured a hat-trick of top twelve finishes from its most challenging weekend of the season to date after the new MSA Formula series headed to Thruxton for the third meeting of the campaign. The Grantham-based team made the journey South to Hampshire aware that it was on the back foot compared to its on-track rivals having missed pre-event testing, which took place last month. It meant that qualifying on Saturday morning marked the first time that Louise Richardson had sampled the fastest circuit on the calendar in single-seater machinery, having missed the corresponding event last year during her Formula Ford programme. While that lack of experience played a part in her qualifying in 19th place, Louise went into the opening race buoyed by the fact that she was able to qualify just 2.5secs off the overall pace, and a solid performance in race one saw her work her way forwards to twelfth place. Having already bettered her qualifying time in race one, Louise then made further strides forward in race two; briefly running inside the top ten before eventually matching her result from race one. Encouragingly, her fastest lap of the race was just three-tenths slower than race winner Lando Norris, with Louise taking the flag less than ten seconds behind the leader after a frenetic race on track. The final race of the weekend once again saw Louise cross the line in twelfth after battling her way forwards from 19th on the grid, leaving confidence high heading into a short break before the fourth meeting of the year at Oulton Park in early June.“I feel we’ve taken another step forward this weekend, but Thruxton was always going to be a challenging event for us after missing the pre-event test a few weeks ago,” she said. “It meant we had to go straight into qualifying with no previous running and while that meant I was towards the back of the grid, I was happy with my pace and it gave me a platform to move forwards.“Overall, I’m happy with the progress I made in terms of my pace and it was good to be able to fight with the guys in the midfield in each of the races. What I now need to work on is boosting my confidence in the car and what it can do as my speed is good; I just need to better my race craft“When you consider we’ve been going from race to race so far this season without the benefit of the testing that other teams have had, I think we can be pleased with the weekend and can aim to push forwards again next time out at Oulton Park.”Team-mate Ollie Pidgley went into the weekend targeting three more finishes in only the second race meeting of his single-seater career; with the teenager eager to impress at his home circuit. While Ollie had previously tested at the circuit earlier in the year, that test took place in heavy rain meaning that qualifying was his first experience of Thruxton’s sweeping curves in dry conditions. Qualifying in 20th place on the grid, Ollie followed Louise in making solid progress through the opening race of the weekend – working his way forwards to 14th place by the finish and improving on his qualifying time by three tenths of a second. While he would then end the second race in 18th spot, it marked by far Ollie’s most impressive performance to date this season, with his quickest time being within four tenths of a second of the leader. Running with the midfield pack, Ollie was able to gain vital experience of racing a single-seater machine and headed into race three keen to maintain his progress. Unfortunately, the rookie would struggle for outright pace as he just missed out on a top 15 place finish, although he remained happy with the way his second weekend in the series had panned out.“I’d only had one test at Thruxton before and that was in the wet, so qualifying was the first time I’d driven the circuit in the dry,” he said. “However, we came through qualifying without any problems and then picked up three race finishes; which was the aim going into the weekend.“I definitely feel I’m gaining a better understanding of the car and what I need to do behind the wheel, and I certainly benefited from the track time again this weekend. In the second race, I was close to the pace of the leader, which is really encouraging, although it’s a shame I couldn’t then build on that pace in race three.“Race two has been a big boost to my confidence however as that is the first time I feel I've really been involved in a race. I gained experience of racing in the pack and of using the slipstream and I feel I coped well with it. It was certainly our strongest race to date and is something we can now look to build on.”