Words – Tim Langham (F.S.R.A. Press Officer)
Photographs – Dirk Wharton
A new season begins for the A.C.U. / F.S.R.A. British F2 Sidecar Championship at Brands Hatch with N.G.R.R.C. over the weekend of the 23rd and 24th April. Last year, this same event was dominated by Lee Crawford / Scott Hardie (LCR Suzuki), who took pole position and two convincing wins. The Team A.R.C. pairing went on to take a total of nine wins, and a further three podium places from thirteen starts, landing the prestigious title by 114 points.
Crawford / Hardie will be looking to make a similarly strong start this weekend, although they are likely to face stiff competition from four-times champions Pete Founds / Jevan Walmsley (LCR Honda) – both teams having had numerous titanic battles over the last seven years.
As ever, we welcome many of the front running stalwarts of the series back to the fray. Father and son team Steve & Matty Ramsden (LCR Honda); former double champion Gary Horspole / Kenny Cole (Baker Suzuki) and Conrad Harrison / Andy Winkle (Bellas Honda) – who are just three crews likely to by vying for podium visits. Former multi-championship winner John Holden / Jason Pitt (LCR Honda) make a return after focusing largely on the F600 class in recent years, and will be considered amongst the favourites for outright race wins.
Veteran campaigners Tony Baker / Leon Fitzpatrick (Baker Suzuki) are also returnees to the series following a break of four years, along with 2016 F2 Cup Champion Gary Gibson / Tom Christie (CES Suzuki). Also making a comeback is 2017 Cup Winner Mike Jackson / Jake Roberts (DMR Suzuki).
In total, twenty seven teams have signed up to compete in the series in 2022 – with most entering this opening event. Unfortunately, several crews are still awaiting the arrival of new machinery, and will have to wait until round two next month to get their first points on the board.
As always, the F2 Cup – known as the “series within a series” – will operate alongside the main British F2 Championship (generally referred to as “Super F2” when differentiating the categories). The Cup offers a chance for teams with less experience a realistic chance of scoring podium finishes. All teams competing score points in the Super F2 section, but only teams ranked as F2 Cup score points in the latter.
Favourites for the Cup are likely to be a toss-up between last years runners-up, Roger & Bradley Stockton (LCR Suzuki), and Rob Atkinson / Mark Middleton (Bellas Yamaha). Both teams featured regularly on the podium in 2021. Other strong challenges are likely to come from Brian Ilaria / Arlo Brown (DDM Suzuki) and Chris Schofield / Shane Colbrook (Baker Honda), to name just two. However – the Cup is usually closely fought and wildly unpredictable all the way through the field!
Unfortunately, the eagerly anticipated first wild-card appearance of the 890cc twin cylinder KTM for multiple T.T. winner Dave Molyneux / Daryl Gibson will not be until round two. However, the grid is bolstered by the 2015 British Champion Alan Founds / Jake Lowther (LCR Yamaha), and Rob Handcock / Shaun Parker (Shelbourne Suzuki), both making use of valuable tracktime for T.T. preparations – as such they line up as “wild cards” – racing for trophies, but not championship points.
Current Lap Records:
Super F2 – Birchall / Birchall – 00:50.860 (12/04/09)
F2 Cup – Kershaw / Wilson – 00:52.187 (04/04/10)
On behalf of the F.S.R.A., I would like to express gratitude to our loyal series sponsors, who have continued to pledge their support, despite the difficult times which the pandemic has brought about for many businesses over the last two years. The A.C.U. have again awarded the official “British Championship” title, and along with 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 they continue their long partnerships with the F.S.R.A.
Finally, the F.S.R.A. would like to thank N.G.R.R.C. for hosting, and to all their dedicated staff, officials, marshals, medics and all the other volunteers involved in running the event, and for continuing to invite the series to several of their meetings.
Round two of the series will also see us joining N.G.R.R.C., at their Donington Park meeting over the weekend of the 14th and 15th May.