Motorsport News - Sportscar
Andrew Richardson aiming to kick start assault on Michelin Ginetta GT Supercup
10th August 2012
FIGHTING CHALLENGES ON AND OFF TRACK - Andrew Richardson on his battles both on the circuit and away from the racing scene
After a difficult start to the 2012 season, Grantham-based Andrew Richardson will aim to kick-start his assault on the Michelin Ginetta GT Supercup this weekend at Snetterton when the second half of the campaign gets underway in Norfolk.
The resumption of racing after the summer break will give Andrew the opportunity to challenge for his first victory of the season at a venue where he took to the top step of the podium last year, with Andrew seeking to make further progress in a career that has seen him face battles both on and off the circuit.
As with most aspiring racers, Andrews career started in karting as he set out on a journey that he hopes will take him to the pinnacle of the sport.
When I was little I wanted to be a racing driver after watching F1, and I started karting having watched my dad doing it, he says. I was only eleven and at the time, I just wanted to give it a go. I really enjoyed the experience and wanted to do more.
Id probably been karting for about two years and suddenly something just clicked into place. I started to get a lot quicker and became hopeful that I could turn something I enjoyed doing into more of a career.
Throughout his time in karting, Andrew enjoyed success at various levels but even at an early stage in his career, the huge differences in budgets between different teams throughout the paddock was apparent.
When I was karting, we would turn up with the van and we would have one engine for the kart and one set of tyres, he said. Others would arrive with multiple engines and multiple sets of tyres because they had much bigger budgets than us. That made it tough, but we just made the most of what we had.
Its always nice to get a victory but maybe it meant a bit more to me because we didnt have the big budget of others and had worked hard to get our results. We were rewarded for our efforts and when I was able to win, I came away from the track delighted.
Heading into the 2009 season, Andrews career took a new direction as he took the step into car competition for the first time with an entry into the Ginetta Challenge.
Running on the same package as British F3 and British GT, Andrew took on the challenge of competing against a bumper field of drivers in identical Ginetta G20s.
Again being run from the back of a van by father Gwyn, Andrew took seventh in the championship in his debut campaign before firmly establishing himself as a title contender in his second season finishing second in the standings having taken twelve podiums, including three wins, from 15 starts.
Initially I hadnt been thinking about moving into cars as we thought it would be too expensive, he said. However, when we looked at the Ginetta Challenge, we realised that the costs werent actually as high as we thought they would be.
At first, it wasnt easy as we had some set-up issues that we had to deal with but then things started to come together. I was able to get more out of the car and the results started to come. Coming from karting, I had been used to winning races so it was difficult at first when I wasnt fighting for victories but you have to be realistic with your expectations. As a racing driver, you arent happy unless you are winning, but I knew that car racing was different to karts and the results soon came.
Having established himself as a Challenge front-runner, it was only logical that Andrews next step would be onto the next rung of the Ginetta ladder as he switched to the BTCC-supporting Ginetta GT Supercup for 2011 joining forces with younger sister Louise in a two-car family run team in the G50 class.
Showing his pace from the outset, Andrew was a contender from the start as he set a lap record at Brands Hatch during the opening meeting of the season and also picked up the first of four victories.
In total, Andrew stood on the podium no fewer than twelve times although a run of misfortune in the early stages of the year prevented him from fighting for the championship title.
The step into the G50 wasnt actually that big for me, he said. Going back to slick tyres rather than the road tyres we had used in the Challenge was good as I felt more at home with those, and I picked things up quite quickly as I showed by winning at Brands Hatch and breaking the G50 lap record first time out.
Unfortunately we had some bad luck through the first half of the year and picked up a few DNFs and that meant I wasnt able to fight for the title but twelve podiums with four wins - and that lap record - showed what I could do. With a bit more luck, things could have been different in the standings.
What the move into the Supercup did achieve in the first season however was a huge boost to Andrews profile, giving the increased attention on the British Touring Car Championship package both trackside and on television.
My profile certainly went up from competing in the Supercup as the BTCC package has a lot more exposure, he said. The Ginetta Challenge gets noticed by people in the industry but the Supercup has more public following because it is with the touring cars and that means there is more exposure for me as a driver and also for my sponsors.
The fact that there are bigger crowds and live TV in the Supercup is also more satisfying as a driver because you can make a good move on track or pick up a strong result and a lot of people have seen it. In the Challenge, you could make a fantastic overtaking move and no-one would see it theyd only hear what youd told them about it.
Having moved up into the premier G55 class this season, Andrews aim was to challenge for the outright championship title although further early season misfortune means his focus for the remainder of the season is now on trying to win as many races as possible as opposed to fighting for the crown.
We moved into the G55 this year as there was a sponsor who was prepared to help us make the step up, he says. However, its been a frustrating season so far as weve suffered a number of retirements that werent down to anything we have done. I certainly didnt think Id be going into the second half of the year where I am in the championship and I guess my season will really start at Snetterton.
So far this year Ive qualified on the front row of the grid in both the wet and the dry, Ive set fastest laps and Ive been on the podium so Ive shown I am quick but our pace isnt reflected by the amount of points we have scored. Im not in a position to think about the championship now so my focus is on getting as many wins as I can in the remaining rounds and picking up some strong results for the team to earn them the respect that the deserve for the job they do.
A strong end to the year would go a long way towards setting Andrew up for the 2013 season, with the Nottingham University student focused on trying to work his way right to the top of the sport.
As with many young drivers, my ultimate dream would be to one day compete in Formula One, he says. However, I have to just see what happens in the future and where I end up. It isnt easy or cheap to make it all the way to F1 but I enjoy racing regardless of where it is and my aim is to compete at the highest level possible in the future and gain respect for my achievements on track.
Andrews rise up the motorsport ladder hasnt been without its challenges away from the circuit however, with the 20-year-old having been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in late 2010.
Having been able to show he can control his diabetes, Andrew has been able to keep his career on track although it understandably creates additional challenges that his rivals dont face.
Before I was first diagnosed with diabetes I wasnt sure what was wrong with me as I found myself drinking 15 litres of fluid every day and I was losing weight, so I thought I better go to the doctor to get checked out, he says. Im able to control my diabetes through insulin injections but it does affect things like my training, as I have to make sure I plan ahead and ensure my sugar levels are up before I exercise.
In terms of my actual race routine, things havent changed too much. I have to make sure that I do my bloods before a race but I try to make sure that I dont eat too close to the start of a race because I dont want it to affect my bloods when I am in the car.
With diabetes playing a major part in his day-to-day life, Andrew now hopes to use his motorsport career to help other people who have to deal with the illness and show it shouldnt be a barrier to success.
As I work my way up the motorsport ladder and get to a higher level, hopefully Ill gain more support from people who also suffer from diabetes, he says. If I can get their respect with my racing on track and keep moving forwards with my career, then hopefully I can show them that having diabetes shouldnt hold you back and prevent you from doing anything.
To be a real role model, you need to be in the public eye and hopefully Ill achieve that in my career. As Ive said, I hope to compete at the highest level possible in the future and who knows, one day I could be the first driver with Type 1 to compete in F1.
Anyone interested in sponsoring Andrew can get more information by contacting the Richardson Racing team in firstname.lastname@example.org
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