The 2018 A.C.U. / F.S.R.A.
British F2 Sidecar Championship
Incorporating The F2 Cup
Round 2 - Cadwell Park - B.M.C.R.C.
Saturday 28th & Sunday 29th April
Words - Mark Dennis
Photographs - Dirk Wharton
The 28th and 29th April saw the second round of the A.C.U. / F.S.R.A British Formula 2 Sidecar Championship at Cadwell Park with Bemsee the hosting club.
A few of the registered teams took the opportunity to participate in the Friday afternoon test sessions in what could be considered "Lake Cadwell". From around 10am on Friday morning it started to rain and it persisted until late in to Saturday evening.
This meeting welcomed 2014 British F2 Champion Gary Bryan with Phil Hyde as ballast, and two French teams, namely the fastest all female sidecar team in TT history Estelle Leblond / Melanie Farnier and Remy Guignard / Frederic Poux.
A ten minute free practice took place halfway through the morning but after this there was a delay due to fuel contamination on track so an early lunch was taken and qualifying would take place straight after.
Just before noon, twenty five outfits took to the circuit for the fifteen minute wet qualifying session and straight away there was an issue for Steve and Matty Ramsden (LCR Honda) whereby they didn't register a time. Setting the early pace were the championship leaders Crawford / Hardie (LCR Suzuki) with a time of 1:50.215 some four seconds quicker than the pairings Hegarty / Neave (Baker Honda) and Founds / Walmsley (DDM Suzuki) who in turn were a second to the good over Jackson / Payne (Windle Suzuki) and Harrison / Winkle (Bellas Honda). Leading the early stages in the F2 Cup class, were the young pairing of Gibson / Moore (Shelbourne Suzuki) closely followed by Russell / Smithies (Shelbourne Honda); Ilaria / Stokoe (DDM Suzuki) and father and son partnership Dean and Ben Dickinson (Shelbourne Suzuki).
As the session came to an end, it was Crawford / Hardie that took their first pole of the season achieving a time of 1:50.166 and joining them on the front row setting a time of 1:51.183 were Founds / Walmsley. On row two with their best ever qualifying to date were the Manx pairing of Jackson / Payne (1:53.283) and Hegarty / Neave (1:53.328). Row three would feature Gibson / Moore (1:53.469) and Shand / Claeys (1.55.072) with the latter setting their fastest lap in the dying seconds (Shand Suzuki). Taking spots on the fourth row of the grid wildcards Bryan / Hyde (1:55.199) and Ilaria / Stokoe (1:55.905) Finalising the top ten on row five Russell / Smithies (1:56.085) and Harrison / Winkle (1:56.124).
Onto race one which started very late in the day just after 6pm due to incidents in other classes and was reduced to ten laps.
There was drama on the start lane as Gibson / Moore suffered an immediate DNF due to a snapped chain.
It was a case of "deja vu" as with the wet race at Croft, Crawford / Hardie made a blistering start from pole and were never to be seen again until parc ferme. They held a four second lead after lap one to Founds / Walmsley who in turn were just 0.456s over the chasing Hegarty / Neave who had relegated Jackson / Payne to fourth, in fifth after making a great start from tenth were Harrsion / Winkle. Holding sixth were Shand / Claeys, who were being persued by Ilaria / Stokoe, the first of the F2 Cup class. A couple of seconds back were the chasing Dickinsons who had also gained five postitions, up to ninth overall and second in class. The next three teams were separated by just three seconds: Lumley / Whitnall; Russell / Smithies and Hackney / Morris. Leading the next five outfits across the line were John and Jake Lowther in thirteenth position having qualified in nineteenth. The train of sidecars over the start finish line in the wet with so much spray was a sight to behold.
Lap two would see Crawford / Hardie set the fastest lap of the race 1:48.871 and increase their lead to nearly eight seconds over Founds / Walmsley, with Hegarty / Neave just under a second behind in third. The Lowther brothers had gained another place up to twelth. The Ramsdens had moved up to sixteenth having started from the back of the grid. The F2 Cup class was being lead by Ilaria / Stokoe by just under two seconds from the Dickinsons and they held an healthy five second advantage over Lumley / Whitnall.
At the end of lap four, Ilaria / Stokoe had overtaken Shand / Claeys to move up to sixth overall and the Ramsdens were now up to fourteenth after going past Remnant / Tilley. The positions remained the same up to lap nine and there was drama as Ilaria / Stokoe had a spin at the hairpin which allowed Dean and Ben Dickinson to move up to first in class and seventh overall thus relegating Ilaria/Stokoe back to ninth overall and second in their respective class. On the final lap it was the Dickinsons turn to have a spin which allowed Ilaria / Stokoe take their first F2 Cup class win together. In a fight to the line after getting back on track the Dickinsons managed to hold off Lumley / Whitnall and take second place in class by just 0.396s. The overall winners and some two seconds a lap quicker than their nearest counterparts Crawford / Hardie crossed the line twenty two seconds ahead of Founds / Walmsley and the final podium place went the way of Hegarty / Neave.
Of the twenty four starters, there were just three that didn't make the finish line and in those conditions with it still raining, lying water and severe spray throughout the ten lap race, that is testament to the preparation and ability of those competing.
Race two on Sunday was originally scheduled to be over fifteen laps but with delays from Saturday this was reduced to twelve laps. With the rain now abated the teams had a couple of laps free practice on Sunday morning on a drying circuit.
There was an incident during the day which required an air ambulance (thoughts to those involved) which delayed the racing for around ninety minutes.
Race Two part one:
There was an incident on the formation lap which caused the red flag to come out as Ilaria / Stokoe went off circuit, with Brian suffering a broken bones in his foot.
Race two part two over ten laps:
This was also stopped on lap two - wildcard team Remy Guinard lost his passenger Frederic Poux - she is understood to have no injuries.
Race two part three over eight laps:
The race finally got away at 1615 on a dry but very cold track. With the top six being in reverse order on the grid it was the same top three leading the way after lap one, namely Crawford / Hardie leading Founds / Walmsley by two seconds, then Hegarty / Neave just 0.4s back in third. In the F2 Cup Lumley / Whitnall lead the way from the Dickinsons and Remnant / Tilley.
With two laps completed, Crawford / Hardie set the fastest lap of the weekend 1:38.455s to increase their lead to three seconds over Founds / Walmsley. Harrison / Winkle had now usurped Hegarty / Neave into third and it looked like another race long battle would be on the cards with these two teams. It was all change in the F2 Cup class as the Dickinsons had overtaken Lumley / Whitnall and chasing both of them down was Gibson / Moore, now up to third.
It was all change again after lap three, as Hegarty / Neave had gone past Harrison / Winkle and in the F2 Cup class Gibson / Moore had taken the lead, followed by the Dickinsons and Lumley / Whitnall in third. By the end of lap four Crawford / Hardie held a 2.9s lead over Founds / Walmsley, this was cut to 2.5s halfway around lap five and as the leaders entered in to Hall Bends, Scott missed a hand hold and came out. As Founds / Walmsley crossed the line after five completed laps the race was once again stopped and after a lengthy discussion between the Championship co-ordinator and the Clerk of the Course this was declared a race after four completed laps.
On behalf of the FSRA I would like to pay thanks to the host club B.M.C.R.C, their marshalls, medics and support staff for the trials and tribulations they encountered over the weekend and not forgetting the good ole English weather!