The 2018 A.C.U. / F.S.R.A.
British F2 Sidecar Championship
Incorporating The F2 Cup
Round 4 - Anglesey - Wirral 100
Saturday 28th & Sunday 29th July
Words - Mark Dennis
Photographs - Dirk Wharton
After a lengthy break the fourth round of the A.C.U. / F.S.R.A. British F2 Sidecar Championship took place over the weekend of the 28th / 29th July at the British version of Philip Island, namely Ty Croes, Anglesey, on the picturesque coastal circuit.
The meeting was to be delayed for several hours due to high winds and with reports of the Britannia Bridge being closed until Monday morning (the main road back into Wales) and also heavy rain forecast for Sunday, some teams decided that due to pending holidays didnt want to take the chance of being stuck on the Island, so the start of practice would see a depleted grid.
The free practice session got underway at 1500 on Saturday afternoon. The track was dry although blustery winds were making certain sections of the track difficult to negotiate. An hour later the heavens opened and a heavy downpour ensued. This would make qualifying interesting in terms of tyre choice to make with only just over an hour's respite between sessions.
So a few minutes before 1700 there were seventeen teams that set off for qualifying and with the track drying rapidly in places but wet in others it would be the teams on full slicks that would set the fastest times. On board the A.R.C. sponsored LCR Suzuki, Lee Crawford / Scott Hardie set the early pace and were never headed as they consistently improved their times and on their tenth and final qualifying lap set pole with a time of 1:15.205. Joining them on the front row of the grid with their best qualifying session to date, on his new DMR chassis with Suzuki power was Mike Jackson with stand in passenger for the meeting Tom Christie just a tenth off pole, putting in a time of 1:15.309. Whichever tyre choice these two teams decided paid off because they were over a second quicker than third placed Printer Roller Services sponsored Bellas Honda of Conrad Harrison / Andy Winkle who in turn were three tenths ahead of Hegarty Racing's Sean Hegarty / James Neave on their Baker Honda. The third row of the grid were “specialists” around the coastal circuit, Team Ramsden racing's Steve and Matty on their LCR Honda; and joint leaders in the F2 Cup on their Shelbourne Suzuki - Daryl Gibson / Ashley Moore. In seventh place and on the fourth row of the grid was the Rowtec / Trustlands sponsored DDM Suzuki, the current championship leaders Pete Founds / Jevan Walmsley and alongside Team Founds were John Shipley / Jonathan Saidi on their LCR Suzuki. Rounding off the top ten were Richard Lumley / Ray Whitnell (Lumley Kawasaki) and joint leaders in the F2 Cup Ralph Remnant / Samantha Tilley, also on a Lumley Kawasaki.
The Wirral 100 club had already arranged for an extension on the day's racing to extend beyond 1800 should the weather and light hold, and this was to be utilised to good effect in getting some of the Saturday schedule run, despite calls from certain quarters earlier in the day to abandon the meeting.
The rain held off and sixteen teams lined up for race one to be held over a reduced distance of twelve laps. One team absent from qualifying were Paul Riley / Andrew Haynes with a fault on their MRE Suzuki which they were unable to cure in time for the start of the race.
Crawford / Hardie led the pack into the first left hander, which would see Hegarty / Neave push Founds / Walmsley wide and the latter also got mixed up with Lumley / Whitnell, relegating them to eighth place along the top part of the circuit. The Ramsdens had worked their way up to second position by the end of lap one and were just 1.188s behind the pole setters. Jackson / Christie had dropped back to fourth and Hegarty / Neave settled into fifth. Founds / Walmsley had regained their qualifying position of seventh and set about chasing the leading F2 Cup runners Gibson / Moore who were occupying sixth postion. The next six teams were covered by just two seconds so places were sure to change throughout the next eleven laps.
At the end of lap two Shipley / Saidi had moved up to twelfth overall and fifth in class and up to fourteenth were Dave Schofield / Tom Pettman. The leaders Crawford / Hardie set the quickest lap of the weekend so far with a time of 1:14.318 and were now 1.665s ahead of the Ramsdens and the rest of the positions remained unchanged.
By the end of lap three, Founds / Walmsley had overtaken Gibson / Moore to relegate them to seventh, although they had a healthy nine second advantage over Lumley / Whitnell who were second in the F2 cup class. With another fast lap set by Crawford / Hardie – 1:14.310 - they had now extended their lead to 2.192s over the Ramsdens. In the F2 Cup, Shipley / Saidi had overtaken Remnant / Tilley and moved up to third in class and were just 0.377s behind Lumley / Whitnell. Founds / Walmsley had caught and passed Hegarty / Neave by the end of lap five and then set about reducing the two second deficit to Jackson / Christie.
At half race distance Shipley / Saidi had slotted into second place in the Cup at the expense of Lumley / Whitnell. At the end of lap eight, Team Ramsden set the fastest lap of the race in a time of 1:14.257s in chasing down Crawford / Hardie, thus reducing their lead to just 1.036s and just under two seconds back in third were Harrison / Winkle. Founds / Walmsley had moved up the order to fourth, and all the top four teams were now recording times in the 1:14s. After encountering back markers by the end of lap nine the gap between the front two was just 0.349s, and Remnant / Tilley moved ahead of Lumley / Whitnell to go third in class.
There was drama for Team A.R.C. just before the start of the penultimate lap, as Hardie exited the outfit at The Corkscrew and would unfortunately add to their tally of non finishes – thankfully Scott was uninjured. Taking the chequered flag for the first time this season and setting the fastest lap were the father and son team of Steve and Matty Ramsden with just a second lead over Harrison / Winkle, who in turn were also a second in front of third placed Founds / Walmsley. With Ramsdens setting a time of 1:14.2 there was just a one tenth difference over five teams, Crawford / Hardie - 1:14.3; Founds / Walmsley – 1:14.4; Harrison / Winkle – 1:14.5; and Jackson / Christie - 1:14.6 so all the teams were a match for each other, its just a case of putting it all together consistently and not making any mistakes.
The grid for the start of race two would see Gibson / Moore on pole, with Hegarty / Neave joining them on the front row as the top six in race one are reversed.
The start of race two - over the scheduled sixteen laps - would once again see sixteen teams with Peter Millington / Helen Deeley not taking part in what were surprisingly dry conditions after the constant rain overnight and into mid morning.
As the teams lined up for the lights to go out, Harrison / Winkle were awarded a ten second penalty for a jump start, and after lap one were registered in fifteenth place. There were many changes from the starting grid, with Hegarty / Neave leading the way by 0.574s ahead of Founds / Walmsley. Jackson / Christie held station in third, the Ramsdens had moved up to fourth and remarkably in fifth after starting on row eight were the charging Crawford / Hardie.
The end of lap two saw few significant changes, with Hegarty / Neave leading the chasing pack. However, the next three laps would see the lead change hands several times. At the end of lap three Founds / Walmsley led Jackson / Christie thus usurping Hegarty / Neave back to third, and lap four saw Jackson / Christie leading Founds / Walmsley, with the Ramsdens heading Hegarty / Neave.
By the end of lap five the lead changed again, with Founds / Walmsley leading Jackson / Christie by 0.469s, and just a second further back were the Ramsdens, after they set the fastest lap so far, recording a time of 1:14.275. In the F2 Cup Gibson / Moore had just under a two second lead over Shipley / Saidi, and there was a close battle for third going on between Lumley / Whitnell and Remnant / Tilley, with the gap between these teams just 0.721s. By the end of lap six, Remnant / Tilley had overtaken Lumley / Whitnell to go third in class.
At the end of lap seven, Founds / Walmsley had opened up a 1.775s gap to the Ramsdens and Crawford / Hardie, both teams recording laptimes in the 1:14 bracket, and with Jackson / Christie losing a couple of seconds on previous laps now finding themselves in fourth.
With nine laps completed, Founds / Walmsley held a two second advantage recording the fastest lap to date 1:14.154s over Ramsden / Ramsden, with Crawford / Hardie 0.672s in arrears in third. The pairing of Founds / Walmsley were now bordering on going sub 1:14 after setting a time of 1:14.089 and this pushed their lead to nearly three seconds, but the Ramsdens were having none of it and recorded a time of 1:13.932 on lap eleven to reduce the gap to 2.24s. They then pulled another half a second on lap twelve, with the gap down to 1.785s to the leaders and just a second back were Crawford / Hardie who recorded their fastest lap so far with a time of 1:14.1.
At the end of lap thirteen Founds / Walmsley set their personal best for the race – 1:14.086 - and with the Ramsdens only managing 1:14.7 the former had extended their lead to 2.438s. But this was to prove the final lap as the race was red flagged after Jackson / Christie, who were in fourth place at the time, went upside down in the middle of the circuit. I am pleased to report both were medically o.k. So Founds / Walmsley took the win, with the Ramsdens finishing second and setting the fastest lap and Crawford / Hardie a very creditable third from their start position of fifteenth.
In the F2 Cup it was the same finishing positions as race one, with Gibson / Moore taking the class win by thirteen seconds over Shipley / Saidi, who in turn were nearly fifteen seconds ahead of Remnant / Tilley.
There were some fantastic battles all the way through the field and all teams put on a great show for those who ventured to watch.
On behalf of the F.S.R.A. I would like to give thanks to the marshals, medics and Wirral 100 organisational staff for what was a very difficult weekend weather wise.