27th & 28th August
Words - John Newton / Images - Derek Donsworth
For the second consecutive year, the Croft round of the British F2 Sidecar Championship concluded with a member of the Founds family having become British Champion! This time, Pete Founds was celebrating along with passenger Jevon Walmsley, after their 8th win from 10 races ensured that they could not be caught, no matter what happens at the Brands Hatch finale.
Pete and Jevon completed their fourth ‘double’ of the season but despite the low number of entries, neither victory was easy. Entries, as we all know, have been hit hard this year, and there were two late withdrawals from this meeting as first Kevin Perry, Roy Hanks’ passenger suffered an injury at work on Wednesday and Nick Dukes had been bitten by some damn thing on holiday. Then the Morgans in qualifying, suffered another engine blow-up and then there were 11!
Steve and Mattie Ramsden had just been pipped at the post for pole in qualifying, by Lee Crawford and Patrick Farrance, but a superb start by Founds from row 2 saw him into Clerveau first, from Crawford with Lewis Blackstock and Paddy Rosnay edging ahead of the Ramsdens. Dave Wallis with Tony Belsey on board was fifth ahead of Cup leaders Gary and Daryl Gibson with Gordon Shand and Phil Hyde just ahead of Greg Lambert and Julie Canipa in eighth though there was every chance that the 5th to 8th placings would be changing at every opportunity! Charlie Morphet with Paul Halliburton, Dean Nicholls with Ben Avison, and Paul Riley with Shaun Parker completed the field but everyone was in touch it seemed with at least one other outfit to try to catch or avoid being caught by!
Crawford did a superb pass on Founds at Clerveau on lap 2, Founds deciding to stay on the gas on the outside but ending up going across the gravel for a hundred metres or so but luckily he didn’t lose much ground on Crawford while Blackstock and Ramsden, although closing were still in 3rd and 4th. Dave Wallis retired from fifth with clutch trouble and it was Shand who moved into fifth. By lap five the gap from Crawford back to Founds was 1.222s and a lap later that was halved and the inevitable came on lap 8, Founds immediately pulling a gap on Crawford. There was just one more change, Ramsden just edging through before the hairpin to take the final podium spot off Blackstock. Nicholls with gearchange problems and Riley with an electrical fault were retirements.
There was yet another change to the line-up for Sunday’s race two. Tony Belsey on returning home just up the road on Saturday evening, was involved in a RTA and was ruled out so Giles Stainton joined Dave Wallis. (Mend quick, Tony!). Ramsden made better use of his front row start this time and led into Clerveau but Founds again got a flyer and hurtled down the back straight diving up the inside of Rammy into Tower. Crawford and Blackstock were just behind in 3rd and 4th with Wallis, Shand, Lambert and Gibson already nose to tail continuing their Saturday dice! Nicholls again was an early retirement but Morphet and Riley were having a great battle for 9th.
Crawford got past Ramsden at Tower on Lap 2 but already Founds was opening a lead; two seconds on lap 3 and that increased almost a second a lap. Ramsden was under pressure from Blackstock, the 5th to 8th battle was superb while the Morphet – Riley scrap was wonderful to watch. Sadly it all came to a halt when Morphet lost Halliburton exiting the chicane on lap 10, just as Blackstock had edged past Ramsden. The race was red flagged and the results declared ‘at 9 laps’. Reports were that both Charlie and Paul were shaken but not stirred’.
And so, another Founds win stretching their lead to 63 points, Crawford on 157 ahead of Ramsden on 142. In the Cup, two more class wins for Blackstock narrowed the gap to the Gibsons, Gary and Daryl on 197, Lewis and Paddy with 175. The trophies were presented by Carl, Keith and Neil from Ian Bell Racing, it was good to see them all again. Wyn Wiltshire conducted his ‘Pot Of Gold’ raffle again, Gordon Shand/Phil Hyde being the lucky recipients – you have told Gordon, haven’t you Phil?! The final round is at Brands Hatch on 8-9 October.