Words - JOHN NEWTON
Photographs - DEREK DONSWORTH; JOHN MUSHET & GARY HESKETH
After a superb weekend’s racing, Alan Founds and Tom Peters now lead the British F2 Sidecar Championship after their first double win. John Mushet’s superb photo shows the only view most of their rivals ever got! Two comfortable victories in very contrasting conditions with some superbly entertaining dices for the ever-enthusiastic Anglesey crowd. Unfortunately, Sunday’s very wet race was red-flagged after a scary coming-together between Team Lowther and Team Quaye, with both outfits badly damaged – but at least all four were up and walking, albeit rather shaken by the incident.
Perfect conditions for Saturday’s opener, but drama at the start when Sean Reeves and Mark Wilkes were late to the holding bay and so missed the sighting lap. When they were admitted to the track they took up their original grid placing on row 2, rather than the back of the grid. The outcome: a 20 second time penalty. Founds got to the first left-hander ahead of Steve and Mattie Ramsden, a superb 2nd in qualifying, with championship leaders John Holden and Andy Winkle third, Gary Bryan/Jamie Winn, Ian/ Carl Bell and Conrad Harrison/Lee Patterson in close pursuit. Even on lap two, Founds was gapping Ramsden while in turn he was edging clear of the four outfits scrapping for third. Bryan took third from Holden while Harrison nabbed fifth off Bell. When Holden regained third, Bryan immediately lost another place as Harrison was flying. Ramsden relinquished second place on lap seven, his misfire problem from practice returning, and it was Harrison who moved up but the gap to Founds was now seven seconds.
Seven seconds was also the gap back to sixth where there was a superb four-outfit battle. Reeves, Wayne Lockey/Mark Sayers, Dean Lindley/Rob Bell and John/Jake Lowther all involved, then another gap and a further four outfit scrap featuring the Quayes, Tony and Fiona Baker, Dwight Beare/Shelley Smithies and Nick Dukes/William Moralee. Ramsden finally retired joining Gordon Shand/Frank Claeys, Dave Wallis/Harry Payne, Rob Fisher/Rick Long, Dave Atkinson/Mike Aylott and Lee Crawford/Ashley Moore on the sidelines. 14th place onwards was taken by wildcards Kev Thornton/Wayne Kemp, Roy Hanks/Kevin Perry, Dave Lillie/Ben Chandler, wildcards Charlie Morphet/Paul Haliburton and Kevin and Steve Morgan in 18th but going well.
Founds duly took the win, 11 seconds clear of Harrison and Bell with Bryan relegating Holden to fifth. Not a good day for John as Founds’ victory had reduced his championship lead from 15.5 to 1.5 points. In the F2 Cup, Pete Founds’ absence was a great opportunity for his rivals to narrow the gap but Ramsden’s retirement and Reeves’ ultimate time penalty saw Founds The Elder keep his lead. And so, it was Tom and Thomas Quaye who took the Cup honours for the first time with Dukes and Reeves completing the podium.
An interesting postscript concerned Dave Lillie’s retirement when the fairing began to rub on the sidecar tyre. It transpired that was caused by the outfit which ploughed into them, namely their ‘team-mates’ Ian and Carl Bell! Obviously there’s a strong physical attraction between the identical fairings which resulted in this Geordie Kiss!
The weather on Sunday was always likely to have an effect on proceedings. We were lulled into thinking it was drying up, then it was just quite light rain and then when it was time for the outfits to go to the holding bay, it began to chuck it down. No change at the start however, Founds into the left-hander and away, Ramsden was swamped by Holden and Co. But this time, the chasers were determined not to let him build a lead, Holden, Bell, Reeves, Harrison and Bryan in close pursuit. The Morgans and Dukes had pulled in while Crawford retired after going off track. Wildcards, Craig and Kirsty Hauxwell retired on lap 3 and still the leading six were in close formation. It was difficult to suggest where anyone might make a move as the spray must have restricted the drivers’ views of the track ahead.
When Bryan retired, Lowther moved into sixth ahead of Beare and Lindley, followed by Quaye, Lockey and Ramsden. It was not until lap 13 that significant changes to the order occurred. Founds lapped Morphet on exiting the last corner, but Holden and Bell had to wait until the left-hander, Holden took the high road, Bell took the low road and he went into The Banking, not Scotland, in second. This gave Founds the chance to open a gap. A lap later Thornton and Shand retired, Reeves spun, Lowther and Quaye had their shunt and then the red flags were shown. Founds had won by seven seconds from Bell, Holden and Harrison.
Reeves was fifth but over 20 seconds clear of Lindley and Beare – Australians are obviously used to rain! Then came Lockey and Ramsden, Hanks beat Baker and Fisher for tenth, with Atkinson, Lillie and Wallis claiming the remaining points. The F2 Cup honours went to Reeves, Beare and Ramsden, enabling Reeves to take the lead in their championship, 132.5 points ahead of P.Founds on 121 and the Ramsdens on 112.5, Quaye and Beare fourth and fifth on 88.5 and 85.5 respectively. With four races and 100 points still on offer, there’s plenty to play for, which equally applies to the main championship placings. Alan Founds leads on 158, Holden on 150.5, from Bell on 98.5, Pete Founds on 83.5, Reeves 68.5, Harrison 67, Ramsden on 56.5 and Lindley on 51. And now a six week gap to Cadwell on September 5-6 and then a further three weeks to the Croft finale on September 26-27.