Words - Mark Dennis
Photographs - Dirk Wharton
The seventh and final round of the 2017 A.C.U./F.S.R.A. British F2 Sidecar Championship took place over the weekend of 16th and 17th September at Cadwell Park. The British F2 Sidecar Championship had already been decided at the penultimate round at Mallory Park, with Team Founds Racing Pete Founds / Jevan Walmsley securing back to back titles. However, the British F2 Cup class was still up for the taking.
There were two qualifying sessions on Saturday, with the best combined times over the two sessions making up the grid for race one later in the day. Joining the series regulars were three wildcards: Tim Reeves / MarkWilkes who were assisting Dave De Mott (DDM) on the set up of the sidecar, Daryl Gibson / Ryan Anderson (Saturday) / Ashley Moore (Sunday), and also Meerkat Motorsport Peter Millington / Rob Child on their MR Equipe.
As the teams were preparing for qualifying one it started to rain, not particularly heavy, you know that fine light rain that gets you wet! The team leading the way on a not so wet track were Team ARC Lee Crawford / Scott Hardie, recording a time of 1:52.956 on their second lap before the red flags came out. The rain started to fall more heavily whilst the teams were waiting for the re-start of the session. No team could get anywhere near Crawford / Hardie at the resumption and thus they held a 4.6s over Sean Reeves / Tom Christie, followed by Founds / Walmsley, Steve and Matty Ramsden and Sean Hegarty / James Neave.
Onto qualifying two, and the teams were brought to the holding area only to be sent back as there was oil down at Mansfield so an early lunch was taken.
After lunch, qualifying resumed on a very wet track, but at least the rain had stopped for the time being. The times started to come down from what the teams set in qualifying one and every single team went quicker on the sodden circuit and apart from five of the seventeen teams, the fastest lap achieved was on their last lap of qualifying. It was Crawford / Hardie (LCR Suzuki) on pole 0.187s ahead of Founds/Walmsley (LCR Suzuki), the former opting to come in halfway through the session, before the track was at it's best. On the second row, Ramsden / Ramsden (LCR Honda) lined up alongside Reeves / Wilkes (DDM Suzuki). The third row of the grid would see Hegarty / Neave (Baker Honda) lining up along side Conrad Harrison / Andy Winkle (Bellas Honda). On the fourth row Reeves / Christie (DDM Suzuki) were alongside the first of the F2 Cup class: Gibson / Anderson (Shelbourne Suzuki). On row five were Michael Jackson / Callum Crowe (Windle Suzuki) and Ralph Remnant / Samantha Tilley (Lumley Kawasaki). Row six would feature Brian Ilaria / Jody James (DDM Suzuki) and Paul Riley / Andy Haynes (MR Equipe Suzuki). On the seventh row on their DMR Honda were Stuart Anderson / Phil Gravel, joining them were Richard Lumley / Ray Whitnell (Lumley Kawasaki). Starting on row eight were wildcards Millington / Child (MR Equipe Suzuki) alongside Giles and Jen Stainton (LCR Suzuki) and rounding off the grid were Wesley Pettman / Lee Saunders-Stewart (Windle Yamaha).
Race one was to be over twelve laps but due to delays this was shortened to ten laps. The race finally got away just after half past four, and a blistering start from the Ramsdens saw them lead the way up to Coppice. After the end of lap one, the Ramsdens led the way with Founds / Walmsley 0.3s behind, down to third were pole setters Crawford / Hardie 0.4s behind, and the same margin ahead of Reeves / Wilkes. Hegarty / Neave decided to see how wet the grass was and dropped eight places to thirteenth!
At the front it was making for a tight battle, and with so much spray coming from the outfits, track position would be at a premium. The current champions Founds / Walmsley then set the fastest sector one and two times and took the lead by the end of lap two recording 1:52.084 thus opening up a 1.536s gap to Crawford / Hardie, Reeves / Wilkes had slotted into third at the expense of the Ramsdens. The leading F2 Cup runners Jackson / Crowe had a cushion of four seconds over Team Powerhouse Ilaria / James, who in turn had a three second lead over Remnant / Tilley.
By the end of the third lap there was just one second separating the top three, and a fastest lap of the race so far 1:50.805 was recorded by Reeves / Wilkes. In the F2 Cup, there was change as Gibson / Anderson, Anderson / Gravel, Riley / Haynes and Lumley / Whitnell had all moved ahead of Remnant / Tilley.. At the end of lap four it was even closer between the top three as all of them recorded lap times around 1:50, the fastest being by Crawford / Hardie at 1:50.490, and the gap to the leaders was just 0.274s with Reeves / Wilkes 0.497s behind second. The gap stayed the same on the next lap but after six of the ten completed laps Founds / Walmsley recorded a time of 1:49.823 to open up a 1.237 gap to second placed pairing of Crawford / Hardie with Reeves / Wilkes right on their tail 0.103s in arrears.
In the F2 Cup, Remnant / Tilley had gained one place and were sixth in class at the expense of Lumley / Whitnell. On the seventh lap there was a racing incident between Crawford / Hardie and Reeves / Wilkes, with the former having to retire on lap seven and handing a six second lead to Founds / Walmsley. So it was the current champions taking the win by 2.249s from Reeves / Wilkes, with the Ramsdens in third with Harrison / Winkle pipping Reeves / Christie to fourth by the smallest of margins - 0.036s. In the F2 Cup, Jackson / Crowe took the spoils and in doing they secured the F2 Cup championship with Anderson / Gravel in second and Gibson / Anderson third.
After each championship race the sidecars enter parc ferme for inspection for a period of time. After much deliberation that went on late into the evening by the B.M.C.R.C. club officials, the conclusion was to remove Reeves / Wilkes from the results for machine ineligibility.
Race one result Super F2:
1st – Founds / Walmsley
2nd – Ramsden / Ramsden
3rd – Harrison / Winkle
Race one result F2 Cup:
1st – Jackson / Crowe
2nd – Anderson / Gravel
3rd – Gibson / Anderson
On Sunday morning there was a slight delay to warm up, not because of rain or a wet track but due to thick fog hanging over the circuit resulting in poor visibility. One of the teams to suffer in warm up were the Ramsdens who blew an engine and with only just over an hour to the start of the second race they were certainly up against it.Scheduled for eighteen laps they did indeed make the start and not only that, they had a blistering getaway once again and led the way up to Coppice but unfortunately for them didn't get much further after suffering a clutch failure and their only DNF this season.
At the end of lap one it was Harrison / Winkle leading the chasing pack over the line from Founds / Walmsley, Crawford / Hardie (who had made repairs to get the outfit on the grid for race two), Hegarty / Neave, Reeves / Christie. In sixth, and leading the F2 Cup class followed by another five F2 cup runners were Remnant / Tilley who were just 0.075s ahead of Anderson / Gravel and Gibson / Moore who were less than a second back in third.
By the end of lap two, Founds / Walmsley had taken the lead and set the first flying lap in the dry of the weekend, recording 1:40.263 to move ahead of Harrison / Winkle, with Crawford / Hardie third and Hegarty / Neave in fourth. The positions had swapped again by the end of lap three and it was Harrison / Winkle leading from Founds / Walmsley and the gap between the top four teams was just 0.931s. In the F2 cup Lumley / Whitnell had moved into fourth in class ahead of Ilaria / James. It was all change again after four laps of eighteen were completed, as Founds / Walmsley went sub 1:40 recording a time of 1:39.703 and took the lead once again, with Crawford / Hardie slotting into second, relegating Harrison / Winkle to third and just 0.2s behind in fourth were Hegarty / Neave. The team of Ilaria / James would retire on lap three due to a split hose.
After six completed laps there were new leaders as Crawford / Hardie had moved ahead of Founds / Walmsley opening a gap of 0.625s. Hegarty / Neave were in fourth just 0.164s behind Harrison / Winkle in third. Lap seven would see the team of Reeves / Christie retire, and after eight completed laps it was all change once again as Founds / Walmsley set the fastest lap of the race – 1:38.879, taking the lead from Crawford / Hardie, who were now struggling with their chain skipping the rear sprocket, costing them time in all parts of the circuit. The team of Hegarty / Neave slotted into third place at the expense of Harrison / Winkle. In the F2 Cup leading the way, the pairing of Anderson / Gravel had moved ahead of Remnant / Tilley with Jackson / Crowe slotting into third in class ahead of Gibson / Moore. The husband and wife pairing Giles / Jen Stainton came off the circuit at Mansfield and hit the armco barrier, bringing out the yellow flags. Thankfully after a visit to the medical centre they were both deemed fit enough to return to the paddock.
At the end of lap twelve, Founds / Walmsley had increased their lead out to 5.679s after setting the fastest lap of the race 1:37.950 to Crawford/Hardie, who by now were really struggling with drive as their transmission issues continued. In third it was still Hegarty / Neave, just 0.5s ahead of Harrison / Winkle. The fight for the third place podium changed again after thirteen completed laps as Harrison / Winkle usurped Hegarty / Neave with the gap between them being just 0.177s. In the F2 Cup, Jackson / Crowe had moved ahead of Remnant / Tilley into second in class. With fifteen laps completed Hegarty / Neave had once again moved ahead of Harrison / Winkle. There was no change after sixteen laps in the Super F2 class but in the F2 Cup, Gibson / Moore had overtaken Remnant / Tilley to gain third place. Remarkably, the pairing of Hegarty / Neave recorded their personal best lap on lap seventeen in chasing down Crawford / Hardie, and as the chequered flag came down they were just 1.101s behind them in third. The winners by 11.838s and taking their eleventh championship win this season were Founds / Walmsley, from Crawford / Hardie and Hegarty / Neave completed the podium. In the F2 Cup, Anderson / Gravel took their second class win this season, Jackson / Crowe were awarded a ten second penalty for overtaking under yellow flags thus resulting in them being demoted to third in class and Gibson / Moore were promoted to second.
1st – Founds / Walmsley
2nd – Crawford / Hardie
3rd – Hegarty / Neave
1st – Anderson / Gravel
2nd – Gibson / Moore
3rd – Jackson / Crowe
The final championship standings for the top three in each class are as follows:
1st – Founds / Walmsley – 313
2nd – Ramsden / Ramsden – 203
3rd – Harrison / Winkle – 171
1st – Jackson / Crowe – 254
2nd – Remnant / Tilley – 188
3rd – Ilaria / James - 186
For the full results please visit the FSRA website.
The F.S.R.A. would like to give thanks to B.M.C.R.C. (Bemsee) for hosting us at the final round and also a big thank you to the marshals and medics as without you none of the racing would be possible and a speedy recovery to Giles and Jen Stainton.
Congratulations to the Isle of Man pairing of Mike Jackson and Callum Crowe on winning the British F2 Cup, Peter Founds and Jevan Walmsley on winning the 2017 A.C.U. / F.S.R.A. British F2 Sidecar Championship and to all the other registered teams for providing great entertainment for the public as there has been great battles all season long throughout the field.
Enjoy the remainder of the 2017 season wherever you may be and see you all at the Sidecar Bonanza at Cadwell Park 28th / 29th October.
Dont forget to book your hotel and dinner tickets for the presentation at the Radisson Blu hotel 2nd December 2017