Round Five - Donington Park
Saturday 11th & Sunday 12th August
Words - Mark Dennis
Photographs - Dirk Wharton
Over the weekend of the 11th and 12th August the A.C.U. / F.S.R.A. British Formula two sidecar championship made their way to the Leicestershire circuit of Donington Park for round five of eight with the host club North Gloucester Road Racing.
There was a ten minute morning warm up on Saturday and it was championship leaders Founds/Walmsley who laid down the gauntlet registering a time just two tenths outside their own lap record. Crawford/Hardie registerd the second quickest time some 1.8s in arrears and had never dipped below 1:16 barrier before so could Founds/Walmsley enjoy an easy weekend?
Qualifying took place at noon on Saturday in dry conditions with twenty two teams bidding for grid positions for race one.
After seven minutes of qualifying of the fifteen minute session and the tyres warmed up it was indeed Founds/Walmsley DDM Suzuki, although slower than their warm up time recorded 1:15.246, in second Crawford/Hardie LCR Suzuki 1:16.005, a further 1.3s back Harrison/Winkle Bellas Honda and hot on their tail Ramsden/Christie. One third of the Christie trio Tom joined Steve this weekend aboard the LCR Honda. Once again current F2 Cup leaders Gibson/Moore Shelbourne Suzuki were showing good pace in fifth. More impressive it was Daryls first time driving the National circuit. Only completing two laps of qualifying Hegarty/Neave Baker Honda were in lying in sixth place. Next up and into seventh the pairing of Russell/Parker Shelbourne Honda. Mike who regularly competes on a solo in a BSB class only took up driving a sidecar this year and is steadily improving meeting by meeting. In eighth place Lowther/Stokoe LCR Honda. With Johns brother unavailable this weekend Sarah kindly stepped in to help John out. The next two teams of Morgan/Morgan LCR Yamaha and Dukes/Moralee Baker Honda were split by just one hundreth of a second.
Finally on their sixth lap of qualifying Crawford/Hardie had broke in to the 1:15s for the very first time and then some, just two tenths behind Founds/Walmsley lapping 1:15.438 and this would prove to be their quickest time before returning to the pits with a few minutes of the session left. With three quarters of the session gone Remnant/Tilley Lumley Kawasaki were swapping positions with the Morgans separated by just two hundredths of a second. On their eight lap in qualifying Founds/Walmsley shaved another tenth off their quickest time to register 1:15.161 which would put them on pole and joining them on the front row Crawford/Hardie. The second row of the grid and split by less than two tenths of a second Ramsden/Chrstie and Harrison/Winkle. On the third row Gibson/Moore and although only completing two laps in qualifying Hegarty/Neave. The next F2 cup teams would make up row four Morgan/Morgan and Remnant/Tilley. The fifth row of the grid would feature Russell/Parker and Lowther/Stokoe. From position sixth on the grid to twelfth the gap between the teams was just over five tenths of a second.
On to race one at 1545 Saturday afternoon over ten laps in dry conditions and would be the race of the year so far between the first two on the grid ,well for eight laps out of ten!
There were twenty two teams lined up and half way through lap one there was drama for Team Powerhouse Ilaria/Lace as their sidecar chair wheel decided to break away from the outfit so thus causing them to retire. At the end of lap one it was Founds/Walmsley leading the way and Crawford/Hardie were keeping pace just 0.3s behind, then a two second gap had opened up to third with Harrison/Winkle leading a charging pack of Ramsden/Christie, Hegarty/Neave with Gibson/Moore and Lowther Stokoe crossing the line almost together. Then in hot pursuit Remnant/Tilley had overtaken the Morgans who in turn were being chased down by Russell/Parker and Dukes/Moralee. The Schofield brothers were having a battle for thirteenth with their respected passengers Derek Taylor Ireson Honda and Tom Pettman Windle Suzuki, there was just 0.4s splitting the next three teams of Hackney/Sims CES Suzuki, Riley/Haynes MRE and the Staintons Giles and Jen LCR Suzuki. Over the next couple of laps Founds/Walmsley and Crawford/Hardie would trade fastest laps and by the end of lap three Crawford/Hardie recorded their personal best ever 1:15.317s and were just 0.15s behind going in to lap four of ten and the leading pair had opened up a five second gap to Harrsion/Winkle. The latter held just over a second advantage over Hegarty/Neave who were now up to fourth with Ramsden/Christie in fifth and Lowther/Stokoe who were having a superb ride in sixth. In the F2 Cup Gibson/Moore lead the way, seventh overall and were now four seconds to the good to nearest championship rivals Remnant/Tilley, battling for third Dukes/Moralee and Russell/Parker split by just half a second. So as they approached Redgate on lap four Crawford/Hardie made their move on Founds/Walmsley and made it stick leading them in to Hollywood. With four laps completed Crawford/Hardie lead Founds/Walmsley by 0.346s and numerous overtakes by each team over the coming laps certainly put on a show for the public. The team of Hegarty/Neave were reeling in Harrison/Winkle with the difference being just 0.476s after setting their fastest lap of the race 1:16.392 making their lap time third quickest overall. It was all over for Dukes/Moralee as they crossed the start finish line to start lap five as their engine gave way big time. Also changes lower down the field as Downes/Hainsworth MRE Suzuki dropped eighteen seconds on their previous lap time to allow Wilby/Lowther Shelbourne Honda and Pettman/Taylor Windle Yamaha to move up a position. The battle between the Schofield brothers would also come to an end as Dave Schofield/Derek Taylors engine also expired. At half race distance Crawford/Hardie Founds/Walmsley was down to 0.106s and bother were lapping in the mid 1:15s which now opened a gap to nearly seven seconds to Harrison/Winkle in third. In the F2 Cup Gibson/Moore held a 6.5s advantage over Remnant/Tilley who in turn were just about holding off the challenge of Russell/Parker to the tune of 0.620s. Fourth in the F2 Cup Schofield/Pettman were just 0.380s ahead of the Morgans. The team of Hegarty/Neave finally got the better of Harrsion/Winkle to move up in to third place by the end of lap seven. There was change in the lead after eight laps completed and would see Founds/Walmsley lead the race for the first time since lap three by 0.625s from Crawford/Hardie, however an unfortunate events occurred on lap nine with Crawford/Hardie retiring due to a relay failure after providing spectacular enjoyment with the race long battle with Founds/Walmsley, with changes in the lead on numerous occasions around the two mile National circuit and if its any consolation setting the fastest lap of the race. Also suffering a DNF, their first of the season Hegarty/Neave who had an electrical issue and would put pay to the rest of their weekend. Such was the pace the front two were running at before the retirement of Crawford/Hardie, Founds/Walmsley took the win by sixteen seconds over Harrison/Winkle claiming second and Ramsden/Christie finalising the podium in third in the Super F2 Class. In the F2 Cup Gibson/Moore would take their seventh win from nine starts to extend their championship lead over Remnant/Tilley who are second in the championship and also managed to hold off Russell/Parker by just 0.168s in third.
On to Sunday and the winners of this race would receive the lovely Bill Boddice Memorial Trophy. The last two seasons this has been won by Founds/Walmsley.
After a deluge of rain overnight, just thirteen teams took part in the morning warm up. From the times recorded it was still damp in many places.
A change in passenger for Dave Schofield with Adam Nix joining the team and non starters for Dukes/Moralee, Russell/Parker, and Hegarty/Neave.
There were eighteen teams lined up on the grid for this twelve lap race and with the top six in reverse order the front row were Remnant/Tilley and Lowther Stokoe, on row two Gibson/Moore and Ramsden/Christie. On row three Harrison/Winkle and Founds/Walmsley. Due to the DNFs in race one, Crawford/Hardie would start on row ten along with Ilaria/Lace and Schofield/Taylor on row eleven.
As the formation lap took place there were drops of rain in the air and as they lined up for the start of the race, it started to get a little heavier. When the lights went out Lowther/Stokoe lead in to Redgate and Founds/Walmsley went in to the first corner in second, however they were caught out by a wet patch and slid sideways but still managed to power out the corner and carry on, unfortunately this wasnt the case for Ramsden/Christie who spun in avoiding Founds/Walmsley, thus causing Christie to be flung from the outfit and Gibson/Moore had nowhere to go and collided with Ramsdens outfit and turning over in the gravel. Steve Ramsden managed to ride his outfit back and Tom went to the medical centre for assessment. Daryl and Ashley were both fine.
As the leaders Lowther/Stokoe approached Craner Curves, they to had a moment and Founds/Walmsley managed to avoid them just. The rain had now abated and thankfully no more incidents to report. Crossing the line at the end of lap it was Founds/Walmsley leading Lowther/Stokoe by just under a second and now up to third from pretty much the back of the grid Crawford/Hardie three seconds in arrears to the leaders. A superb start by Schofield/Taylor saw them move up to fourth place overall and leading the F2 Cup, closely pursued by Morgan/Morgan, Riley/Haynes, Schofield/Nix, Hackney/Sims, Remnant/Tilley and Downes/Hainsworth. After avoiding the melee on lap one, Harrison/Winkle were down in twelfth after lap one but worked their way through the field to eighth in lap two and up to sixth on lap three. At the end of lap three Crawford/Hardie have moved ahead of Lowther/Stokoe and set about chasing down Founds/Walmsley with the latter holding a three second lead. The gap back to fourth was now twelve seconds and was still being held by Schofield/Taylor, with the Morgans a second further back in fifth, who in turn were a second ahead of Harrison/Winkle. Lying in third in the F2 Cup and seventh overall Schofield/Nix, just a second behind Harrison/Winkle. By the end of lap four Crawford/Hardie has reduced the deficit to just 2.1s. Another two places gained for Harrison/Winkle would see them move up to fourth place but with a gap of 14.5s to make up to third to catch Lowther/Stokoe, a fourth place would be as good as they could muster. The Morgans had now overtaken Schofield/Taylor to lead the F2 Cup and fifth overall and in seventh and third F2 cup runner Schofield/Nix. Remnant/Tilley overtook Riley/Haynes to move up to fourth in class which could prove invaluable reducing the championship lead that Gibson/Moore currently hold if they could maintain position. With the track looking like it had almost dried up Crawford/Hardie registered a 1:15.463 lap to further reduce the deficit to 1.536s to Founds/Walmsley at the end of lap five. Moving up two positions from eleventh to ninth and up to fifth in class Ilaria/Lace were having a great battle against Hackney/Sims and Stainton/Stainton. At just over half race distance Remnant/Tilley lost eighteen seconds from their previuos lap and had dropped back to eighth in class, there would also be a retirement for Riley/Haynes. With the chasing Crawford/Hardie Founds/Walmsley pulled the pin and the next five laps recorded 1;15s laps and setting the fastest lap of the weekend 1;15.210 and increase their lead out to six seconds, such was their consistent pace. With just a couple of laps remaining Ilaria/Lace had moved ahead of Schofield/Taylor in to third in the F2 Cup class. On the penultimate lap, Stainton/Stainton recorded their fastest lap of the race and were just 0.199s behind Schofield/Taylor and under two seconds behind Ilaria/Lace and were lapping quicker than the latter so it would be a battle for the line on the last lap and who would take third in the F2 Cup. The race winners by 10.9s seconds and winning the Bill Boddice Memorial trophy Founds/Walmsley with Crawford/Hardie in second and Lowther/Stokoe in third and a brilliant first championship Super F2 podium for Sarah. So back to the battle for third in the F2 Cup, that went in the way of by just 0.108s to Giles and Jen Stainton over Brian Ilaria and Olly Lace who in turn just managed to hold off Chris Schofield and Derek Taylor to the tune of 0.295s.
Of the twenty eight registered teams there are just two that have finished ten out of ten races and they are Founds/Walmsley and Remnant/Tilley.
On behalf of the FSRA I would like to give thanks to the North Gloucester club along with their marhsals and medics whom we shall see again in a few weeks at Castle Coombe and also to all the teams for putting on great battles throughout the field over the two races.
The sixth round will commence at Croft in two weeks time at the Battle of Britain meeting.