Lee Crawford and Scott Hardie have had another busy - and for the most part successful - season competing on their F2 L.C.R. Suzuki. Representing Team A.R.C., they enjoyed excellent results at the Southern 100 and Oliver's Mount road races, and took two A.C.U. / F.S.R.A. British F2 race wins and six runners-up placings.
It was very much a year of transition for the Anglo-Scots pairing, as they acquired a new chassis at the end of 2018. This was equipped with a longer swinging arm, running a higher profile rear tyre. These changes paid dividends at most circuits, although there is still more to come from this package in 2020, as gearing and suspension setup can be further improved with more track-time.
Early season testing showed immediate signs of promise, with a double win at Croft and a brace of second place finishes the following week at Oulton Park, where they went under the existing F2 lap record. Indeed at Knockhill the following month, Lee and Scott broke the lap record - currently they hold the F2 sidecar lap records at all Scottish venues (East Fortune and both Knockhill configurations).
The opening round of the British F2 Championship took place at Snetterton, with a runners-up placing in the first race, but mechanical problems ruled the team out of the second race in the early stages. Round two was held at Donington Park, and saw Lee and Scott have an epic race-long battle with Pete Founds / Jevan Walmsley, with Team A.R.C. holding their nerve to take the win by 0.2 seconds. Lee and Scott crossed the line in third place in race two, right in the wheel tracks of Alan Founds / Jake Lowther but took points for second as the aforementioned team were appearing as "wild-cards".
Team A.R.C. then took a seven week break as the Isle of Man T.T. Races took centre stage. While Lee did not compete, Scott joined forces with John Lowther, taking ninth and thirteenth positions, winning a bronze replica and the "Cyril Smith Trophy".
The International Sidecar Revival at Cadwell Park was the setting for round three of the British Championship, where Lee and Scott took a pair of second place finishes. This was a thoroughly enjoyable event held under sunny skies, with sidecars of all periods taking to the track.
With another break until the next round of the British Championship, the team decided to enter a round of the Molson Group British Sidecar Championship as a wild-card at Knockhill, which was running alongside the B.S.B. series. From an initial starting position of tenth, Lee and Scott were delighted to finish fifth in dry conditions against a full grid of long F600 outfits. With damp weather on Sunday, Team A.R.C. were fastest in the morning warm up, and led race two until they were forced to retire to pitlane at half distance with a clutch issue. Furthermore, Lee and Scott firmly consolidated their existing F2 lap record, taking a whole second off the previous best.
Next up was the highlight of the year - Lee and Scott's second visit to the Billown Circuit on the Isle of Man, to compete at the Southern 100 Road Races. They excelled in all sessions, qualifying fifth, and crossing the finish line in the same place in the opening race, which was a thrilling battle between the top five teams. In race two, they took a well deserved podium place, finishing third. Their quickest lap time of the week puts them as the seventh fastest sidecar team around the circuit, and next year the aim will be to break the 100mph lap.
Staying with road racing, following nearly two years of uncertainty, Oliver's Mount appeared back on the schedule, and this was the next event on the agenda for Team A.R.C. They picked up where they had left off in September 2017, taking both wins and topping the timesheets in every session.
August and September were busy months, with the British Championship taking centre stage. Team A.R.C. opted to withdraw from the event at Anglesey following problems in opening practice, and thus did not start either race. Second place in race one at the team's home circuit of Croft looked set to be followed up with a win in race two, when unfortunately the chain parted company with the sprocket, forcing a retirement in the early stages. Another second place at Castle Combe moved the team back into the top three of the championship, and this was consolidated in the opening race at Mallory Park three weeks later, with a resounding win. However, torrential rain as race two got underway saw many teams get caught out - particularly Lee and Scott - they aquaplanned off the circuit at Shaws Hairpin, thankfully they were unscathed, as was the outfit.
The second visit of the season to Oliver's Mount yielded another excellent pair of wins at the North Yorkshire parkland venue, also landing the team the "Ian Bell Trophy" in a weekend of tricky weather conditions.
The season was rounded out with visits to East Fortune - taking two wins - and the Sunflower Trophy at Bishopscourt in Northern Ireland. Despite having never competed there previously, Team A.R.C. took pole position and two wins (again in changeable conditions). However, their chances of landing the overall trophy were dashed when the outfit refused to start before the final race (later traced to water ingress into an electrical block connector).
2020 looks set to be a busy year, with the T.T. Races being the focus of Team A.R.C.'s plans - the winter months will see Lee and Scott travel to the Isle of Man several times to learn the circuit, and machine preparation is already underway in earnest with this in mind. The intention is to also compete at the Southern 100 Road Races, all Oliver's Mount events and the A.C.U. / F.S.R.A. British F2 Sidecar Championship.
Lee and Scott express their gratitude to all those involved directly in the team, particularly those who travel to the events to assist and support. Thanks also go to the following for their assistance this year: Richard Hyndmarsh of A.F. Engineering; Ian Walker of Walker Tyres; Chris Wright of Stainless Steel Developments; Les Saunders of Saunders Complete Waste Management; Mike Crawford of A.R.C. Binchester / Newton Aycliffe; P.G. Legal; MOTUL U.K.; K.C. Computer Repairs; Pagid Rennsport; Pete Alton at O.T.C. Dyno; S.J.H. Bodyworks; Bds Motorcycles and Dirk Wharton Photography. Team A.R.C. look forward to working with you again in 2020.