Words - Mark Dennis
Photographs - Dirk Wharton
The penultimate round of the 2017 ACU/FSRA British Formula two sidecar championship took place over the weekend of the 9th/10 September at the “Friendly Circuit” Mallory Park. The forecast for the weekend was looking rather drab to say the very least.
On the Saturday morning there was a ten minute warm up session in cold damp conditions. Qualifying took place later in the day; and at 1500 hours eighteen outfits took to the dry track. The qualifying would be over twenty minutes so would give plenty of teams to try and set a fast pace. It was to be Team Founds Racing Peter Founds / Jevan Walmsley on their LCR Rowtec sponsored Suzuki who powered to pole position to make it six poles out of six with their fastest time of 56.191s, which they achieved on lap ten. Joining them on the front row of the grid some 0.428s behind were Team ARC Lee Crawford / Scott Hardie, also on a LCR Suzuki. On the second row would be Team Ramsden Steve / Matty Ramsden on their Honda powered LCR 0.083s behind the second pairing and joining them on the second row Printer Roller Services Conrad Harrison / Andy Winkle on a Honda powered Bellas. On the third row Hegarty Racing's Sean Hegarty / James Neave on their Honda powered Baker, so the top five were split by just a single second. Joining team Hegarty on the third row with their best qualifying position this season were BK Racing's Howard Baker / Mike Killingsworth on their Shelbourne Honda. After missing most of the season for one thing or another it was Reeves Racings Sean Reeves / Tom Christie on their Suzuki powered DDM on row four, they were to be joined on the grid with F2 Cup leaders Mike Jackson / Callum Crowe on their Windle Suzuki. On the fifth row of the grid were Ralph Remnant / Samantha Tilley on their Kawasaki powered Lumley, and joining them would be Team SAS Giles / Jen Stainton on their LCR Suzuki. On the sixth row Lumley Engineering's Richard Lumley / Ray Whitnell on their Lumley Kawasaki. The last team to go sub sixty seconds and join the sixth row were Team Powerhouse Brian Ilaria / Jody James on their Suzuki powered DDM. As pointed out on social media there were seven different types of chassis in the top ten.
So with qualifying done, a few teams signed up for taxi rides for the “keepsmiley4riley” fund. Thankfully the rain stayed away whilst the paying public had three laps, although the circuit was rather wet. Many thanks go to E.M.R.A. / Mallory Park, the teams of Peter Founds, Lee Crawford, Andy Wilby, Giles Stainton, Steve Ramsden, Richard Lumley, Stuart Anderson, Brian Ilaria and Steve Morgan for giving up their time and also a big thanks to all of those that paid for the taxi rides. A grand total of £825 was raised. A couple of videos were taken and can be viewed on the F.S.R.A. Facebook page.
Onto race one scheduled for 1230 on Sunday over eighteen laps, and as the teams made their way to the holding area, it was announced over the tannoy that a wet race had been declared. One team suffered from this declaration as Team Hegarty decided to change to wets. There was obviously mis-communication because the rest of the teams then lined up on the grid for two formation laps just a couple of minutes after the announcement. With both formation laps completed the weather couldnt make up its mind what to do - it wasn't wet enough for full wets and would be tricky on slicks. One pairing to pull out after the formation lap were Team SAS Giles / Jen Stainton.
When the lights went out it was Crawford / Hardie who took the lead in to Gerards, ahead of pole setters Founds / Walmsley. At the end of lap one, Baker / Killingsworth had moved up three places in to third place. These three teams retained the same position for all of the eighteen completed laps. The conditions were very tricky to say the least and superb riding gave Lee Crawford his second championship win this season and Scott Hardie his maiden British Championship win by 7.163s ahead of Peter Founds / Jevan Walmsley. Also a great result for the final podium for Howard Baker / Mike Killingsworth.
1st - Crawford / Hardie
2nd - Founds / Walmsley
3rd - Baker / Killingsworth
In the F2 Cup class it was the Manx pairing of Jackson / Crowe would hold the class lead until lap seven, but at the end of lap eight they found themselves relegated to fourth in class. Leading the way would be Ilaria / James, 3.475s ahead of Lumley / Whitnell who in turn were just 1.803s ahead of Anderson / Gravel. At the end of lap eleven Ilaria / James had opened up a nine second gap to Anderson / Gravel, who in turn were just 0.548 ahead of Lumley / Whitnell. Theses three teams stayed the same for the remainder of the race and there were cheers of joy for Team Powerhouse after achieving five second place class finishes this season, they finally got on the top step of the podium.
1st - Ilaria / James
2nd - Anderson / Gravel
3rd - Lumley / Whitnell
Congratulations to all the teams in extremely tricky conditions, if it had been F1 cars, they would have pitted about half a dozen times to change tyres such was the change in track conditions!
Onto race two some three hours later and this time the circuit was dry thankfully.
As the lights went out it was Founds / Walmsley this time who lead the chasing pack in to Gerrards and after lap one the red flags came out for an incident at Edwinas in which Andy Wilby's passenger Paul Lowther was hit by another outfit an sustaining two broken legs. All at the F.S.R.A. send their best wishes for a speedy recovery to Paul.
The race was restarted, once again scheduled for eighteen laps and it was Founds / Walmsley leading the way, closely followed by Ramsden / Ramsden in hot pursuit and the rest of the chasing pack. By the end of lap three Founds / Walmsley held a two second lead over race one victors Crawford / Hardie, with Harrison / Winkle gaining third place ahead of the Ramdsens thus relegating them to fourth. Reeves / Christie had moved in to fifth position at the expense of Hegarty / Neave. By the end of lap five, Harrison / Winkle had set the fastest lap of the race and would be the only team to break the 56s barrier recording a time of 55.973s chasing down Crawford / Hardie. The pairing of Hegarty / Neave had moved ahead of Reeves / Christie in to fifth position. There was change again after the end of lap seven, with Harrison / Winkle moving up to second from Crawford / Hardie and Hegarty / Neave moved ahead of the Ramsdens in to fourth place. With Crawford / Hardie retiring on the next lap, Hegarty / Neave slotted into the third and final podium place.
After the top two teams had completed thirteen laps, the red flags came out to signal the end of the race as Team Powerhouse suffered an engine blow up. So the results stood on twelve completed laps and it was Team Founds` Pete Founds / Jevan Walmsley taking the win, their ninth in total this season and securing the British title.
The runners up spot in race two and setting the fastest lap of the weekend Conrad Harrison / Andy Winkle and in third place after much disappointment in the first race Sean Hegarty / James Neave.
1st - Founds / Walmsley
2nd - Harrison / Winkle
3rd - Hegarty / Neave
In the F2 cup class it was Lumley / Whitnell who made the better start leading the way from Anderson / Gravel and Jackson / Crowe. By the end of lap four, Ilaria / James had usurped Jackson / Crowe, thus relegating them to fourth position. It was all change again by the end of lap six, although Lumley / Whitnell were leading the class, Ilaria / James had moved into second in class, Jackson / Crowe slotted in to third, fourth were Remnant / Tilley, and in fifth the Staintons. With just under six seconds separating the top five, you knew it wasn't set to stay like this! At the end of lap eight, Team SAS had moved ahead of Jackson / Crowe to fourth in class, by the end of lap nine Anderson / Gravel had also moved ahead of Jackson / Crowe who seemed to be suffering with engine problems. But they managed to cross the line to gain valuable points as Team Powerhouse suffered their second DNF this season. So it was Richard Lumley / Ray Whitnell taking their first class win, Ralph Remnant / Samantha Tilley securing second and Giles / Jen Stainton taking third.
1st - Lumley/Whitnell
2nd - Remnant/Tilley
3rd - Stainton/Stainton
The championship reaches it's conclusion this coming weekend (16th and 17th September) at Cadwell Park. With a twelve lap race scheduled for Saturday and a whopping eighteen laps for Sunday who knows what the final outcome will be and who will join Peter Founds/Jevan Walmsley at the ACU awards dinner?
Thank you to the host club EMRA, all the marshalls and medics and also to Gary Thompson for presenting the trophies this weekend.
Lets hope for a better weekend's weather at Cadwell Park.