Round 8 of the Hyundai Heavy Industries British F1 Sidecar Championship in association with the Molson Group was held on the 18-20th September at the famous Assen TT Circuit in Holland. Known as the Cathedral of speed, this was MkRacing's Martin Kirk and Ben Hughes' 1st visit to the circuit and after a 7 week break since the last round at Thruxton, the team were keen to get back to action. A number of Dutch and a couple of world championship teams were also on the entry list and with a grid of 31 teams there was going to be some close racing ahead.
The weather had been pretty poor when the team travelled over on Thursday, with some heavy downpours but as the teams headed out for the 1st of two qualifying sessions early on Friday afternoon the sun was out and the track was dry. Mart and Ben headed out to do a few laps to figure out the track and scrub some new tyres before coming in to swap tyres and finish the session on some worn ones. They ended the session 27th overall and 19th of the British teams. Reasonable happy that they knew where they were going now, both Mart and Ben felt they could find a good few seconds in the next session. Qualifying 2 was a wet session late on Friday afternoon and as the grid is set for race 1 from the fastest times from both sessions they weren't going to able to get any further up the grid for the race. It was however a great opportunity to get some wet track time as the pair haven't had any proper wet track time together. At the end of the session they were 15th fastest and really pleased to have done so well in the wet.
Race 1 late on Saturday afternoon saw Mart and Ben make a good start off the line and by the end of the opening lap they were up to 23rd slotted in behind one of the Dutch teams of Ritzer/Banda. After a few laps trying to find a way past Mart and Ben finally made a move in to the last chicane on lap 5 and two laps later they had also caught and passed the Finish pairing of Artiola/Salu. A retirement up front had also promoted them another position and with 3 laps to go they were in 20th. With a clear track in front they pushed hard to break away from the two teams behind them and put in their fastest lap of the race, some 9 seconds faster than their qualifying time. The group in front were too far away to catch but as they crossed the line at the end of the 10 lap race they had a comfortable gap of 10 seconds behind them, finishing in 20th place overall and 15th of the teams entered into the British championship. A good 1st race and the team were really happy to have taken so much time off their fastest lap from qualifying.
Race 2 was held late on Sunday afternoon and after a number of delays through the day, the race distant had been cut to 8 laps and unfortunately due to time constraints the Live TV coverage had also been cut. Due to a few short showers in the lead up to the race, the track was slightly greasy in a few places but all the teams lined up on slick tyres. After another good start as the lights went out, Mart and Ben pushed hard in the opening laps and settled into 19th. They were part of a 6 team pack for the majority of the race and whilst they lapped much more consistently this time, they couldn't find a way to get past any of the teams in front. As the last couple of laps approached, the group was closing up and they were still hot on the heels on the Dutch pairing of Talons/Moes. Unfortunately as all 6 teams came up on one of the backmarkers, Mart and Ben were unable to get past at the same time, costing them a couple of seconds and any chance of progressing up the pack in the last couple of laps. They crossed the line in 19th overall and 14th of the British teams. A good race in which they had managed to shave a few more tenths off their fastest lap and lap much more consistently.
Overall it was a great 1st visit to Assen and the team came away happy with the weekends results. It was a really good to meet and race with some of the Dutch teams and we are looking forward to returning again. The results help maintain 13th position in the championship for the team, however with 2 rounds to go and double points at the last round it's all still to play for.
The Team would like to thank their sponsors Custom Reworx ltd, Chequered Flag, Attleborough, Keith Whiting Race Developments, Click Click Photography and Brian's Property Maintenance (BPM) for their continued support and help and to thank Kabuto Helmets for a great service over the weekend.
We would also like to thank Dean Nicholls of Lick Racing who came with us and loaned us the use of his race truck and awning for the weekend.