The eighth and final event of the 2019 A.C.U. / F.S.R.A. British F2 Sidecar Championship will be held at the popular Cheshire circuit of Oulton Park on Friday 27th and Saturday 28th September. Testing and free practice will be held on Friday, with qualifying and two races the following day.
While the Super F2 Championship was sewn up at Castle Combe earlier this month, going the way of Pete Founds / Jevan Walmsley (LCR Suzuki) for the fourth consecutive year; the runners-up place is yet to be decided. Last weekend saw the penultimate round of the series at Mallory Park, with Lee Crawford / Scott Hardie (LCR Suzuki) taking the win in race one, whilst they suffered an incident in race two which put them out of the running. Instead, race two saw a popular first win for John Lowther / Tom Christie (LCR Suzuki), with the latter crew currently occupying second place in the series, holding a 26 point advantage in the standings over third placed Sean Hegarty / James Neave (Baker Honda).
Last month, Founds / Walmsley suffered an incident at Croft – which has unfortunately sidelined Walmsley for the rest of the year with a shattered heel. Founds will attend Oulton, with former T.T. lap record holder Ben Binns confirmed as an eleventh hour stand-in. Also likely to be in contention for podium placings are the 2018 F2 Cup champions, Daryl Gibson / Ashley Moore (Shelbourne Honda), who made a return to the series last weekend, having missed several events during the summer.
The F2 Cup has proved a close and competitive series throughout the season, and Simon Robinson / Mick Fairhurst (LCR Suzuki) hold a nineteen point advantage over Rob Atkinson / Mark Middleton (Bellas Suzuki). Both teams have enjoyed excellent reliability and achieved consistent results all year – in fact at Mallory Park and Castle Combe, both teams took a win and runners-up place at each event. These two pairings are also capable of finishing well within the top six – or even on the podium – in the Super F2 section too! Brian Ilaria / Olly Lace (DDM Suzuki) are in a safe third place, and need only nine points at Oulton Park to secure this position, currently holding a 42 point cushion over John Shipley jnr / Milo Ward (LCR Suzuki).
Last year's visit to Oulton Park was disrupted by the weather – race two was abandoned after firstly machines had to leave the grid as hail began to fall, then when proceedings did get underway, an incident involving Conrad Harrison / Andy Winkle brought out the red flags early on. Crawford / Hardie won the sole sidecar race earlier in the day, with a dominant performance, landing them the “Steve Norbury Trophy”, while champions Founds / Walmsley were consigned to the sidelines following a mechanical problem in qualifying. Hegarty / Neave took the runners-up slot, from wild-cards Dave Molyneux / Harry Payne. Third in the F2 Cup was enough for Gibson / Moore to seal the championship, while Chris Schofield / Derek Taylor took their first win from Ilaria / Lace.
While track conditions did not lend themselves to lap record pace in 2018, a club event in March this year saw Founds / Walmsley, Crawford / Hardie and John Holden / Lee Cain all go under the previous record, with the latter setting the fastest time to date.
The F2 Sidecar lap records for Oulton Park are:
Super F2 – John Holden / Lee Cain – 1:47.970 – 30/03/19
F2 Cup – Dwight Beare / Benjamin Binns – 1:49.953 – 23/04/16
On behalf of the F.S.R.A., may I wish all competitors, teams and spectators a safe and enjoyable weekend. Thanks go to North Gloucester Road Racing Club - and the A.C.U., plus all the F.S.R.A. series sponsors for their continued invaluable assistance, those being:A.R.C. Binchester; A.V. Craine & Son; Hegarty Plant; Lockside Engineering; Pagid Racing; Rowtec Ltd; Whitby Cottages and Yorkshire Engine Supplies.