Richmond Racing – Doing It Differently
© Mark Howson
One of the many joys of GT racing is the variety
of cars that this branch of motorsport attracts, and while that
variety has arguably been lacking in British GT in recent times,
one new arrival is undeniably a very distinctive character. This
small, nimble, front-engined and British newcomer is starting to
get noticed, after a season of very good reliability and continual
The story of the Ginetta G20 GT goes all the way
back to 2001, when Richard Hollebon found himself being approached
by the Ginetta factory to build a G27R 200, essentially a development
of the G27 that formed the basis for the Ginetta Championship at
the time. The intention was to build 20 of these 200bhp versions
for racing, but the cars turned out to be too expensive and in the
end just two cars (for Hollebon and Mike Gardiner) were built. Despite
this, Hollebon continued to develop the car and eventually increased
the power output to 250bhp. The consensus at the time was that it
would have made a very good (Ginetta) Cup car.
At the same time as the G27R 200 was being developed,
Richmond Racing was formed to support and run two drivers in Ginetta
G20s, which had by then taken over from the G27 in the championship.
One of those drivers was Nick Marsh and he and Hollebon would be
the driving force behind the G20 GT project; although it was a conversation
over a pint that got it all going.
started as a laugh,” recalls Hollebon (right). “Nick
and I had gone down the pub and we started talking about fitting
a V6 into the G20. Nick then came down to the Richmond Racing Christmas
party and saw the three litre block in the G27R. After a chat, we
thought ‘let’s do it!’ - Nick with half of the
money and me with the other half.”
“I’d actually been at Le Mans with a
few mates that year and we’d been dreaming about doing the
race,” added Marsh. “The conversation came round to
‘what car?’ and how it couldn’t be a Porsche because
that’s too boring. So we went through the alternatives; TVR?
Lotus? And then it occurred to me, ‘Ginetta?’, and the
mind started whirring.”
For Richard Hollebon, the challenge lay in building
and developing a competitive car; simply buying a ready-developed
racer like a 996 held no appeal; “There’s no fun in
that,” he said. “Besides, I was great friends with Martin
at Ginetta and was hoping to get the factory involved.”
At the time Ginetta Cars was owned by a consortium
of businessmen who were also Ginetta enthusiasts, but in 2005 the
company changed hands and the new owner was well known to dailysportscar
“We actually gave Lawrence (Tomlinson) his
first race in a Ginetta,” said Hollebon (and actually that
was his first race ever), “so we’ve known him a long
time.” It was clearly a classic case of ‘I liked it
so much I bought the company’, but the G20 GT project was
not on the new owner’s horizons at the time of the purchase.
“Lawrence is very interested in how we are doing, but we are
totally independent of the factory.”
And so the build of the G20 GT began in 2005 and
it was a far from easy job dropping the Jaguar V6 into the tight
confines of the G20 chassis. “We had to shave bits off the
block to get the engine in,” explained Hollebon, “and
had to hand-build many parts. There’s no way we could attempt
an engine change at a race meeting.”
a successful pre-season test at Pembrey, the team announced a full-season
entry to the 2006 British GT Championship, racing in the Cup class.
The story of
the season for Richmond Racing has been one of impressive reliability,
with the car recording classified finishes in every race so far
(with only the Pau meeting being missed) and only once failing to
take the flag - when the gear stick snapped off in Nick Marsh’s
hands at Snetterton with half a lap to go. The car has not yet been
amongst the front runners, but has perceptibly improved as the season
has gone on. So how satisfied is the team with its progress so far
“We’ve hit every one of our targets
so far, so we’re happy,” asserted Richard Hollebon.
“The first challenge was to get the car ready to race at the
start of the season; the second was not to finish last; and the
third was to get up into the midfield and particularly amongst the
The season has not been without its frustrations,
with almost as many problems as advances being experienced. Nevertheless,
Hollebon disputes the suggestion in the Brands Hatch official programme
that the team are ‘doing their development in public’;
“In real terms, most of the development has been in the tyres;
we haven’t fundamentally changed the car all season and have
even gone back to a road ‘box.
“The biggest problem is that it took half
a season to get the right Avons for the car,” continued Hollebon.
“We got the right compound at Mondello and we got the right
size at Snetterton, but by then the season was two thirds over and
the car was past its best. Having said that, we’re realistic
enough to know that we are one car amongst many and I have to say
that Avon has been fantastic in its efforts to get us the best tyre.
thing we wanted to do was to serve an apprenticeship in GTs, and
we’ve shown that we can run professionally.”
Marsh (above, right) decided mid-season that there was little point
in spending a great deal of money on the car for the remainder of
2006 and switched their sights towards 2007. “Subject to funding,
the intention is to build a new car from the chassis up and take
it from there,” said Hollebon.
Richmond Racing has demonstrated an admirable determination
to stick to the task in hand and has never once opted to take the
easy way out of a problem. The team has produced a well-engineered
and very individual car on the tightest of budgets and has undoubtedly
achieved more than many had expected. But as well as this, the team
has enjoyed itself along the way and contributed immensely to the
BGT paddock atmosphere.
Who knows, with the right backing, could we be talking
about a GT3 Ginetta in the not-too-distant future?