Words – Tim Langham (F.S.R.A. Press Officer) / Photographs – Dave Goy
The Cadwell Park International Sidecar Revival meeting lived up to all expectations with close and exciting racing throughout the weekend – particularly in the trio of A.C.U. / F.S.R.A. British F2 Sidecar Championship races. Lap records tumbled in both the Super and F2 Cup categories; with two wins going to reigning champions Pete Founds / Jevan Walmsley (LCR Honda), and the other – a superb first outright victory for Harry Payne / Mark Wilkes (GP Yamaha) – who eased to a hat-trick of wins in the F2 Cup.
Qualifying saw a break in the stranglehold which championship leaders Lee Crawford / Scott Hardie had enjoyed with three consecutive pole-position starts, as Founds / Walmsley topped the timesheet throughout the session. However, circuit debutants Payne / Wilkes were only 0.1s in arrears at the end of the session. Crawford / Hardie were 0.9s back in third, while Alan Founds / Jake Lowther (LCR Yamaha) were a further second down. Making a “wild card” appearance at what is considered their home circuit, Gary Bryan / Phil Hyde (Baker Honda) were fifth fastest, just 0.09s quicker than Steve & Matty Ramsden (LCR Honda, who rounded out the top six.
As the day went on, a number of stoppages saw the event slip behind time, and the opening race just got underway only seconds before the “curfew” at 18.29! Founds / Walmsley made a fantastic start from the front row, while Payne / Wilkes were relegated to third by Crawford / Hardie, with Founds / Lowther settling into fourth – all was looking set for a close four-way encounter at the front. However – there was almost immediate disappointment for the race leaders as the bolts in their rear sprocket carrier worked loose, forcing them out of the race on lap one at the exit of Mansfield.
Crawford / Hardie led the way on lap two from Payne / Wilkes who were edging away slightly from Founds / Lowther. Bryan / Hyde; Conrad Harrison / Ben Binns (Bellas Honda); wild-cards Daryl Gibson / Ashley Moore (Shelbourne Suzuki); the Ramsdens; John Lowther / Matthew Rostron (LCR Yamaha) and cup-runners Chris Schofield / Shane Colbrook (Baker Honda) were all charging hard at the head of the chasing pack.
There was disappointment for Roger & Bradley Stockton (LCR Suzuki) as they retired to the paddock on lap two, and they were joined shortly after by fellow F2 Cup competitors Rob Atkinson / Mark Middleton (Bellas Suzuki), and Charlie Morphet / Paul Halliburton (LCR Suzuki).
A somewhat lethargic start for Brian Ilaria / Matty Sims (DDM Suzuki) had seen them towards the back of the field in the early stages, although they were impressing with a strong drive through the pack, and were well inside the top fifteen by half distance, and looking destined for a slot on the F2 Cup podium should their charge continue.
Crawford / Hardie were coming under increased pressure from Payne / Wilkes, and better drive from Barn Corner saw Payne / Wilkes take the lead on the run to Coppice. However, Crawford / Hardie regained the lead at Chris Curve, before a decisive move at The Chicane saw the lead change again, with Payne / Wilkes pulling out a couple of bike lengths. The leading outfits had opened a margin of around fourteen seconds to third placed Founds / Lowther, who were now having a lonely ride approximately twenty seconds ahead of Gibson / Moore, who had made some excellent progress, having passed Bryan / Hyde and Harrison / Binns.
Ilaria / Sims were now up to third in the F2 Cup, and closing down Schofield / Colbrook – however the latter pairing had a spin at The Hairpin on lap nine, with Ilaria / Sims just managing to avoid them, taking to the grass – and indeed suffering a big sideways moment themselves at Barn Corner. However, both crews managed to regain composure and were able to proceed.
Payne / Wilkes took the win (in both the Super F2 and F2 Cup!), just under two seconds clear of Crawford / Hardie, with Founds / Lowther completing the podium. The top six was completed by Gibson / Moore; Bryan / Hyde and Harrison / Binns. Ilaria / Sims took second in the Cup (tenth overall), six seconds clear of Schofield / Colbrook who were third in class (eleventh overall).
Harrison / Binns and Bryan / Hyde formed up the front of the grid in the second race (owing to the top six finishers in race one being reversed), while the fastest team of the weekend so far – Founds / Walmsley – took their place at the back of the grid, owing to their non-finish in the previous encounter.
Founds / Lowther took charge at the front in the early stages, hounded by Crawford / Hardie, while Payne / Wilkes took a little longer to overcome the outfit of Bryan / Hyde to join a three-way tussle at the front. Meanwhile, Founds / Walmsley were charging through the field, and were already inside the top ten at the end of the opening lap, moving through to seventh at the close of lap two.
Early retirements saw Paul Riley / Jody James (MRE Suzuki) and Dean & Ben Dickinson (Baker Suzuki) out of contention, and they were joined on the sidelines around the half-way stage by Nev Jones / Mark Gash (LCR Suzuki); Richard Hackney / Dave Ryder (CES Suzuki) and Gibson / Moore.
Payne / Wilkes got the better of Crawford / Hardie and were hounding the leaders, Founds / Lowther. Meanwile Founds / Walmsley had moved into fourth, and were catching the leading trio at a rate of knots, firstly relegating Crawford / Hardie to fourth, then Payne / Wilkes to third. By lap seven, Founds / Walmsley had taken the lead from younger brother Alan, and were already stretching away.
Unfortunately, in a bid to stay with the leaders, Payne / Wilkes had a slight incident between Hall Bends and The Hairpin, getting sideways, losing around six seconds, allowing Crawford / Hardie the opportunity to settle into a safe third place.
The pace at the front was such, that Founds / Walmsley regained the Super F2 lap record – which had been held briefly by Ben & Tom Birchall, setting a new benchmark of 1:36.104 on lap eight. On the same circulation, their own long standing F2 Cup record, set back in 2015 was obliterated by Payne / Wilkes, setting a time of 1:36.206 – an improvement of almost two seconds – as they tried to get back on terms with the leaders.
Founds / Walmsley started the final lap a comfortable seven seconds clear of Founds / Lowther, who had little comfort as Crawford / Hardie were right with them as they made a late charge. However, a rather nasty incident for Mick Alton / Keith Brotherton (LCR Suzuki) at The Gooseneck saw their outfit roll twice as they had to take evasive action to avoid a broadsided outfit in the middle of the circuit, bringing the race to a premature end. Thankfully both competitors and machinery were relatively unscathed, and were back on the grid for race three.
The red flags meant the race result was declared at the close of lap nine. Taking an excellent victory from the back of the grid were Founds / Walmsley – who were awarded the “Phil Dongworth Memorial Trophy” for the performance of the day. Founds / Lowther held on for second from Crawford / Hardie. Payne / Wilkes were fourth (F2 Cup winners), with Bryan / Hyde and Harrison / Binns taking fifth and sixth respectively as they had in race one. The F2 Cup podium saw Ilaria / Sims take second (ninth overall), while the Stocktons made up for their Saturday disappointment with a third in class (tenth overall).
The final race of the weekend was a shortened ten lap affair, following delays due to a combination of inclement weather and incidents which saw much of the afternoon programme revised. A sharp shower of rain around twenty minutes before the start saw much deliberation regarding tyre choice. While the circuit appeared to be drying, a few spots of rain fell steadily as the machines headed off on the warm up lap.
Once again Harrison / Binns and Bryan / Hyde occupied the front row, although on full wets, the two “Team Founds” outfits took charge at the front. Running slicks, Crawford / Hardie and Payne / Wilkes were circulating third and fourth, and with the rain easing after two laps it looked like the slick tyres could well come into play as the wets were unlikely to stand the duration on what was becoming a rapidly drying circuit.
Harrison / Binns were retirements to the paddock on lap three following a spin at Charlies, finding slicks to be too much of a handful in the changeable conditions. Further retirements were Morphet / Halliburton; Gary Horspole / Kenny Cole (Shelbourne Honda); Jones / Gash, and Lowther / Rostron – the latter crew still being inconvenienced by ongoing overheating problems.
Crawford / Hardie were the team on the charge, moving into second at the expense of Founds / Lowther. While Founds / Walmsley had set the fastest lap of the race on the third lap, Crawford / Hardie were hounding them down as the slick tyres became more effective than the wets on lap four. Payne / Wilkes were not having such a benefit, quite a margin back in fourth, while Bryan / Hyde were running fifth, a good half minute ahead of Gibson / Moore.
In the Cup, a team on the charge were Riley / James, who were having arguably their finest run in the series to date, and were up inside the top ten. Fellow Cup competitors Atkinson / Middleton were having a difficult outing in a weekend which had been marred by a number of mechanical issues, but were still nursing their machine round in third.
On lap seven, it looked like Founds / Walmsley were going to run into difficulties with tyres, as Crawford / Hardie had moved to within striking distance. However, once again the weather played a part, and steady rain fell in the closing laps, slowing Crawford / Hardie, who came home as runners-up as Founds / Walmsley took their second win of the day. Founds / Lowther took third, 18 seconds clear of Cup winners Payne / Wilkes. Bryan / Hyde were fifth, and Gibson / Moore sixth. Second in the Cup, and seventh on the road (scoring Super F2 points for fifth) were a delighted Riley / James, with Atkinson / Middleton next to cross the line, and taking the final step on the Cup podium.
Consistent finishing within the top three saw Crawford / Hardie extend their championship lead by a modest five points over Payne / Wilkes – the advantage now being 74, with 100 still available. Meanwhile, in the F2 Cup, three wins have moved Payne / Wilkes 54 points clear of Schofield / Colbrook.
The F.S.R.A. would, as always like to offer our continued appreciation to the A.C.U. for their assistance and awarding the official “British Championship” title. Thanks also to our series sponsors: A.R.C. (Binchester / Newton Aycliffe); A.V. Craine & Son; Hegarty Plant Ltd; Leeds Parcel Company; Lockside Engineering; Pagid Racing (Breitenbach Rennsport); Rowtec Engineering Maintenance; and Whitby Cottages.
Finally, on behalf of the F.S.R.A. and our teams, I would like to thank B.M.C.R.C. for hosting an excellent event, and extend this to all their dedicated staff, officials, marshals, medics and all the other volunteers who were involved in organising and conducting this fantastic event.
The penultimate round of the championship is scheduled for the weekend of the 21st and 22nd August at Croft, for the “Battle of Britain” event.