DRIVER NEWS: First top 10 of season for Pidgley

Ollie Pidgley / Richardson Racing

Report supplied by driver’s PR

DRIVER NEWS 23 AUGUST, 2015 – Richardson Racing driver Ollie Pidgley delivered by far his best results of the MSA Formula season at Knockhill Circuit in Scotland over the weekend, with the first year single-seater racer achieving his maiden top 10 finish in the second of the event’s three contests.

Marking the 17-year-old’s first ever visit north of the border to the undulating and very technical Fife track, Downton-based Ollie produced a series of highly competitive performances despite a less than smooth start to the event in officially timed testing on Friday.

Along with the top 10 result in round 20 on Sunday morning, the MSA Academy racer claimed a then season-best of 13th position in round 19 on Saturday and wrapped-up his Scottish adventure with a top 12 placing in round 21 – which was televised live on ITV4.

“It’s great to have been in the top 10 for the first time and three more finishes in the points is what we were aiming for,” said Ollie, “Being a 50 second lap, Knockhill might look easy but the undulation is really challenging and it’s quite a difficult circuit to get to grips with. We needed maximum track time, so weren’t helped by a clutch problem in testing, but overall it was a strong weekend.”

Originally planning to forego the Knockhill event, Ollie did ultimately decide to embark on the seven and a half hour drive from Wiltshire to the Fife track for the weekend’s action and the net result was his most competitive outing yet in MSA Formula.

Beginning round 19 from 18th on the grid, the single-seater rookie’s maiden race at the Scottish circuit became ever more challenging prior to the start of the contest when rain began to fall, making the track surface very unpredictable on slick tyres.

Although difficult initially, Ollie was able to make steady progress with his pace and by lap eight he had moved into 16th as a result of contact between race leading pair Daniel Ticktum and Ricky Collard at the hairpin.

As the track dried more and more, and his confidence increased, Ollie moved into the top 15 and then managed to pass Jack Butel for 14th place on lap 14. Then, just prior to the finish on lap 23, he took 13th position following problems for team-mate Louise Richardson on the penultimate tour.

For round 20 on Sunday morning, in fully dry conditions, Ollie started on the seventh row and after climbing two places on lap one he was edged back by title front-runner Ricky Collard prior to the Safety Car being deployed. When racing resumed, he maintained 12th place but on lap 10 had to take evasive action to avoid the stricken car of Lando Norris in the middle of the track.

Dropping to 15th position as a result, Ollie moved back into 14th a few laps later and was then able to profit from dramas for others to break into the top 10. Notably, his best lap of the race was within just 0.4 seconds of the winner’s quickest time.

Beginning round 21 from the back row of the grid in 18th position, Ollie gained two places prior to the start after issues for a couple of rivals on the formation lap and by lap three he was up into 14th position and running strongly.

Taking another place a lap later, the Wiltshire teenager climbed into the top 12 as a result of a drive-through penalty for Ticktum and although edged back to 14th during the second half of the contest he worked his way back into the top 12 before the conclusion.

“Qualifying wasn’t quite as good as we’d hoped as I didn’t have a steady base lap in my head to reference due to our problems in testing”, reflected Ollie, “Then, race one was a big challenge with the rain, it was spitting slightly in the assembly area and then it rained really heavily when we went out to the grid. I’d never driven a lap in the car in the wet, definitely not the wet on slicks!

“There was a lot of carnage in race two, I got a decent start and I moved up into about 11th place but when Lando [Norris] got spun out and he was in the middle of the road, I lost two places avoiding him but we still finished in 10th in the end which was great. Race three was another good result and showed we definitely made some positive progress this weekend.”

DRIVER NEWS: Frustration for Pidgley at Snetterton after twin contact

Ollie Pidgley

Report supplied by driver’s PR

DRIVER NEWS 10 AUGUST, 2015 – Downton teenager Ollie Pidgley endured a frustrating visit to Snetterton 300 Circuit in Norfolk over the weekend with contact in two of the event’s three races spoiling an otherwise positive race meeting for the Richardson Racing driver.

Although his unblemished points-scoring record was halted in round 16 on Saturday when his Ford EcoBoost-powered car was smashed into from behind at the hairpin on lap seven, the 17-year-old was able to conclude the event with a hard-earned top 15 finish in round 18 on Sunday afternoon.

“Being crashed into from behind twice in the first two races this weekend was pretty frustrating, especially as our pace has been improving”, said the Wiltshire driver, “It’s not the start to the second half of the season we were looking for, we know we’re getting quicker though and the car is working better – it’s just unfortunate we couldn’t take away the sort of results we deserved.”

Ending pre-event testing on Friday within a second of the top 10, Ollie picked up his pace very impressively during qualifying on Saturday morning to secure 15th position on the grid for round 16 with a lap time of 1m52.424 seconds (95.06mph) – placing the first year ‘slicks and wings’ racer within just 0.6 seconds of eighth spot.

Maintaining his position on lap one after a clean getaway, the MSA Academy racer ran competitively within just 0.5 seconds of Toby Sowery after the first couple of laps and on the fourth tour he moved up into 14th place as a result of Daniel Baybutt slipping down the order.

Baybutt hit back on lap six, pushing Ollie into 15th again, but then the youngster profited from an issue for Sandy Mitchell to once more take 14th position. Into the seventh tour, though, after seeing off a challenge by Rafael Martins over the line, Ollie’s car was then assaulted by the JTR machine of James Pull at Montreal Hairpin – resulting in a bitterly disappointing retirement.

Pull was penalised by race officials after being declared at fault for the incident, but along with the non-finish and the resulting damage – which required a great effort by the Richardson Racing team to ready Ollie’s car for Sunday’s action – the teenager also had to begin round 17 from the back row.

Facing a tough challenge from 21st on the grid during Sunday morning’s contest, Ollie made a great start once again to move up into the top 20 and then gained another place on lap two when Sandy Mitchell crashed out.

On lap three, though, at the hairpin once more, Ollie was yet again the victim of contact and he had to make a pit visit for a new front wing. On rejoining the race a lap down, Ollie held 19th position and remained there to the finish on lap 10.

“Pace-wise through testing we were OK and then in qualifying it went well, we were P15 and pretty close to the top 10”, he explained, “In race one I was up into 14th, I had [Rafael] Martins behind me and James Pull behind him. Pull went to the inside of Martins at the hairpin, locked-up and drove clean into me – it broke the rear wing, sidepod, engine cover and the headrest was dented in!

“Because of that, we started on the last row for race two but I made a really good start again. I was in about 19th and overtook Ameya [Vaidyanathan] at the hairpin on lap two but on the next lap it was the same sort of incident as race one – he hit my rear tyre and knocked me round. I got back to the pits for a new front wing, but the tracking was miles out and we were a lap down.”

Beginning the final race, round 18, from 12th position, Ollie slipped back a place on the opening tour and remained there until lap three when he was passed by championship leader Ricky Collard – the move opening the door for two other cars to nip through as well.

Climbing back into the top 15 at the end of the fourth tour, when team-mate Louise Richardson had a spin entering Murrays, Ollie then moved into 14th position a lap later and started to reel-in the group ahead. All over the back of the battling Pull and Baybutt, he then slipped back to 15th on lap nine when Richardson moved past after making the most of a good slipstream into Riches.

Ollie will forego the championship’s visit to Knockhill in Scotland a fortnight from now, instead returning to action for the eighth race meeting of the MSA Formula campaign on 5th/6th September at Rockingham.