Words – Tim Langham / Photographs – Dirk Wharton & Ste McNorton
Team A.R.C.’s Lee Crawford and Scott Hardie scooped the A.C.U. / F.S.R.A. British F2 Sidecar Championship with a performance masterclass last weekend at Croft. They took pole position, a dominant double win and shattered their own lap record to land the prestigious title at the penultimate round of the series.
The opening round of the championship was back in mid-April at Brands Hatch on the Indy configuration of the legendary Kent circuit. Last October, the team had contested the Brands G.P. event at B.S.B., setting a new lap record, however, this was the first outing for both Lee and Scott on the shorter track. They went under the Birchall brothers twelve year standing lap record on their way to qualifying fastest, before easing to a brace of wins, again matching the lap record to take a ten point advantage to Donington Park over Sean Hegarty / James Neave.
Donington Park boasted a full grid packed with talent, attracting several “wild-card” pairings including 2019 RKB-F1 Champion Todd Ellis / Phil Hyde, and multiple World Champions Tim Reeves / Kevin Rousseau. Unpredictable weather in qualifying saw Team A.R.C. have the foresight to take wet tyres to the pitlane, and they made the change from slicks at the end of their first sighting lap. This paid dividends, posting the fastest time which was 3.6 seconds clear of the second placed pairing of Ellis / Hyde.
On a drying track, Lee and Scott broke the lap record three times in the opening race, their winning margin nearly 7 seconds over runners-up Alan Founds / Jake Lowther. Maximum points were scored once again in race two, taking the win from the impressive debutants to the series, Harry Payne / Emmanuelle Clement in a shortened red-flagged outing.
There was a visit the following weekend to Oliver’s Mount for what was to be the only “real roads” event of the year for Team A.R.C., where Lee and Scott became the second fastest pair ever around the 2.43 mile North Yorkshire parkland circuit, in a time of 1:53.792 during a meeting where they topped every timesheet, scoring a hat-trick of wins.
Covid restrictions in Wales saw the loss of the Anglesey round scheduled for the 26th and 27th June, so there was a seven week lay off until the championship resumed at Mallory Park. Making no mistake, Team A.R.C. continued their qualifying dominance taking another pole position, although reigning champions Pete Founds / Jevan Walmsley were very much on the pace, with only 0.1 seconds between the two crews at the close of the session. Race one saw a fantastic four-way battle between these two teams plus Payne / Mark Wilkes and Founds / Lowther. Unfortunately, an incident for one of the F2 Cup runners brought out the red flags, and while a re-start was attempted there was something of a confusion, and the results were awarded on the first part of the race, which saw Team A.R.C. take the 25 points.
Race two saw an excellent ride for Lee and Scott – after running second in the early stages, the outfit cut out on the exit of the Hairpin, refusing to start. Losing approximately forty seconds, the machine eventually roared into life, and an excellent recovery drive to fourth place salvaged valuable points in a race which looked like yielding nothing other than disappointment!
Cadwell Park was the host circuit for round four at the excellent “International Sidecar Revival” meeting. Three races were on the cards opposed to the usual two, and having had some mixed results at this circuit in the past, the approach was one of consolidation with the championship in mind, rather than going all-out for race wins. This tactic paid dividends, taking second place in race one to Payne / Wilkes in what was an excellent race; third in race two behind the Team Founds machines, and a close second to Founds / Walmsley in race three which was something of a lottery in terms of tyre choice! These consistent podium finishes allowed Team A.R.C. to accrue the most points over the weekend, to increase the lead by a modest four points, knowing that a win in race one at the next round would be enough to secure the British Championship.
Croft played host to round five – the circuit being only twenty minutes from home for Lee, and a venue which holds many fond memories. Seven years previous Lee – and then passenger Stuart Ramsay – made their debut in the British Championship (as wild-cards) at this meeting and duly won the race! This time around, Lee and Scott qualified 2.5 seconds clear of Payne / Wilkes in a wet qualifying, and wrapped up the championship title in race one, with their victory being just over 10 seconds clear of the same crew. Better conditions in race two again saw a dominant win, this time over John Lowther / Matthew Rostron, breaking their own lap record consecutively on laps two and three, before cruising to victory.
Thanks of course go to the entire team for their tireless commitment and effort with preparation throughout the year, and at the race meetings to ensure everything runs smoothly. A huge appreciation go to all our sponsors (in no particular order): A.R.C. Newton Aycliffe / Binchester; Saunders Complete Waste Management; Marin Motorsport; Pagid; P.G. Legal; K.C. Computer Repairs; Leeds Parcel Company; A.F. Engineering; B.D.S. Motorcycles; Miller Composite Moulds; Exhaust Mania; M.H. Engineering; S.J.H. Bodyworks; Christie Engineering Services; Hegarty Plant Ltd; Walker Tyres and MOTUL UK.
The next event will be the final round of the British Championship at Knockhill, where the team will also be looking to accrue points in the Scottish Championship, where they lie second in the standings, only four points behind the leaders despite missing a round. This is likely to be the final outing for the F2 outfit in 2021, with the last three meetings focusing on the F600 LCR Kawasaki, including two “Wild Card” outings at B.S.B. events.