Louise Richardson enjoyed a solid start to her single-seater career after being granted an eleventh-hour opportunity to join the Dunlop MSA Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain for the opening rounds of the year at Brands Hatch.
Louise's entry into the season opener was only confirmed on the day before on-track action kicked off the Kent circuit, with Friday testing giving her the first opportunity to see how she shaped up alongside the rest of the field.
Driving the same Ford EcoBoost-powered Mygale that was raced and developed last year by older brother Andy, who is now managing the Richardson Racing team while working on putting together his own racing programme, Louise made good progress through the two test sessions, only for a gearbox issue in qualifying to leave her at the back of the grid for race one.
Staying out of trouble, Louise made solid progress through the opening 26 lap encounter to secure a tenth place finish, bringing her car home on the lead lap and earning her the 'Most Improved Driver' award for making up the most positions from her grid slot.
The remaining two races would yield a pair of eleventh places finishes, with the second race in particular seeing her lap strongly compared to her more experienced rivals, many of whom came into the weekend having carried out full pre-season testing programmes.
Louise sits eleventh in the standings following the weekend, and fourth amongst the scholarship class runners.
“It’s been a big learning curve for me this weekend, probably the biggest learning curve I've had so far in my career,” she said. “I found time throughout the weekend and I feel that my technique has improved, as driving this car is totally different to the Ginettas I've raced in the past.
“With the extra aero, you can carry a lot more speed through the corners, so I've had to get my head around the fact that I could keep pushing beyond the point where I'd have to ease off in the past.
“I've been able to learn a huge amount, although the weekend has also shown me that I need to work on improving the strength in my arms as its a lot more challenging to drive the Ford than it was to drive the Ginetta. You feel every little movement through the steering wheel and there is no time to rest; not even on the straights.
“Overall, I feel I've done a solid job for my first race weekend in single-seaters, especially when you consider that that is the most time I have spent in the car. Hopefully now we can sort something out for Donington Park so I can try and push closer to the midfield.”
The Richardson Racing team ran a second car during the Brands Hatch race weekend for journalist/broadcaster Ben Constanduros, who recovered from an incident in Friday testing to take a hat-trick of twelfth place finishes on his first outing in Formula Ford.
The story of his race weekend was being documented for a feature that will run on the XCar Youtube channel at a later date.