Words - JOHN NEWTON
Photographs - DEREK DONSWORTH & JOHN MUSHET
First and foremost, congratulations to ALAN FOUNDS and TOM PETERS, the new ACU/FSRA British F2 Sidecar Champions. After their runners-up placing last year, they were determined to go one better and their enthusiasm, talent and machine preparation (23 finishes from 24 starts in the last two years!) have seen them rewarded with the number one plate for next year!
So, how did the weekend pan out? Billed as the Founds v Holden shootout, qualifying looked like resulting in pole for Founds/Peters and second to John Holden, with Stu Ramsay in the chair, in second spot but Pete Founds, now with Sam Christie alongside, went faster and then Lee Crawford/Patrick Farrance went quicker still. Crawford used pole to full advantage and led after the opening lap from Pete Founds, Holden and Alan Founds with Ian and Carl Bell fifth ahead of F2 Cup leaders Sean Reeves and Mark Wilkes completing the top six. Pete Founds took the lead on lap 2 but on lap four Crawford and Holden relegated him to third. By then Alan Founds had dropped to sixth meaning that had those placings continued, Holden would take back the championship lead. But Alan soon regained fifth place from Reeves and then on lap 8, the whole complexion of the race, the weekend and even the championship changed. Stu Ramsay came out exiting the chicane and Holden’s championship aspirations all but vanished. So Crawford led from Pete Founds, Bell, Alan Founds and Reeves, Steve and Mattie Ramsden now in sixth place. Crawford cruised to a 6 second victory. Founds Major second with Founds Minor upto third from Bell and Reeves. The 16 points for Founds/Peters gave them a 23.5 point lead, which meant that 14th place on Sunday would suffice EVEN if Holden won race 2.
At this point in a race report, I’d normally mention the F2 Cup leaders, but I have already! Amazingly, six of the first eight were from the Cup class. Crawford and Pete Founds took the honours but the 16 points for third in the Cup were more than enough for Sean Reeves and Mark Wilkes to clinch the British F2 Cup Championship for 2015. Congrats to the whole team!
Whilst the focus was understandably on the title contenders, there were, as always, some frantic battles behind them. Ramsden looked safe in 6th but Dwight Beare/Shelley Smithies pinched that on the last lap. Both Conrad Harrison/Lee Patterson and Dave Wallis/Harry Payne had had qualifying troubles and started from the back of the grid. Harrison hurtled through the pack, and got up to sixth on lap 9 but retired with an oil leak, Wallis reached 10th place behind Wayne Lockey/Mark Sayers, with Lewis Blackstock/Patrick Rosnay up in 8th on their Croft debut. Dave Atkinson/Mike Aylott had been in 8th but slowed on the penultimate lap just before the hairpin, waited there for the leaders to finish, and then toured in to take 14th and two points. Completing the picture, the Quayes were 11th ahead of Nick Dukes/William Moralee and Tony and Fiona Baker. The other four teams were continuing their weekend to forget. Roy Hanks/Kev Perry and Gary/Daryl Gibson both retired and were to be non-starters on Sunday while the Lowthers and Dave Lillie/Ben Chandler both suffered the first of what would be two non-finishes.
The mist lifted and warmish sunny weather heralded the final race of 2015. Crawford again led from the start followed by Pete F ahead of Alan F, Bell and Reeves, with Holden languishing in sixth, Stu Ramsay having fully recovered from Saturday’s ‘off’. No change in the order until half-distance but Holden’s rear tyre was rapidly losing grip, so John decided that discretion was the better part of valour, and having slipped back to tenth, retired on lap 8. The title could now be confirmed as heading to the Wirral! Pete Founds took the lead on lap 7 but couldn’t totally shake off Crawford, as they finished 1-2, the reverse of Saturday’s result.
It was Pete’s second win of the season but the first for Sam Christie – joining Dad Simon in the record books (a double race winner at Snetterton in 1998!). Founds/Peters were content in third but Harrison on another charge from the back of the grid, took the final podium place on the last lap, passenger Lee stating it was the most enjoyable podium finish of his career! Bell was fifth ahead of Reeves, Rammy and Blackstock again 7th and 8th. Atkinson took 9th from Beare, Quaye, Wallis and Dukes with Lockey suffering his first non-finish of the season. Consolation for Wayne and Mark, they won the £100 in the Wyn Wiltshire Draw, many thanks, Wyn!
And so, another brilliant championship comes to an end, the ‘Young Guns’ having really made their mark. The trophies, as befitting a meeting with the Battle Of Britain heading, were presented by Sergeant Jason Lappin. Many thanks to both the Croft Circuit and NEMCRC officials for their welcome and attention to detail throughout the weekend. Indeed many thanks to all our host clubs – Wirral 100, Bemsee and North Gloucester and gracious thanks to our sponsors. From me, a huge thank you to Derek Donsworth and John Mushet for their superb photos throughout the season. Don’t forget to book your rooms and tickets for the Annual Dinner, this year on Saturday 21st November. Only problem now is the six month wait until the next championship!