Holden & Lowther Win Steve Norbury Trophy At Cadwell Park’s Sidecar Revival

Words – Tim Langham (F.S.R.A. Press Officer)

A weekend of high drama on the 6th and 7th August in perfect weather conditions saw three action packed races for the A.C.U. / F.S.R.A. British F2 Sidecar Championship. While Pete Founds / Jevan Walmsley (LCR Honda) extended their championship lead to 56 points – with only 100 remaining – it was consistency over the weekend for John Holden / Jake Lowther (LCR Yamaha) who landed the “Steve Norbury Trophy” after accumulating the most points of the registered teams. Meanwhile, runaway F2 Cup leaders Rob Atkinson / Mark Middleton (Bellas Yamaha) maintained their perfect record in class, winning all three races to require just 40 points from the last four races to seal the title.

John Holden & Jake Lowther – Photo By Sid Diggins

A late “wild-card” addition to the grid were this year’s double T.T. winners, Ben and Tom Birchall (LCR Honda), who were very much at the forefront of proceedings throughout the weekend.

Founds / Walmsley unofficially broke their own lap record in free practice, and went on to repeat the feat in qualifying, shaving off a significant 0.6s from the previous best. The Birchalls were second, with Holden / Lowther third. Making their second appearance in the series this season, Manx brothers Ryan and Callum Crowe (LCR Honda) were fourth fastest, a mere 0.1s in arrears, ahead of Daryl Gibson / Ashley Moore (CES Suzuki), the former Cup Champions entered as a wild-card.

Only 0.05s separated Steve and Matty Ramsden (LCR Honda) and Sean Hegarty / James Neave (Baker Honda), while Atkinson / Middleton headed the Cup charge in eighth. Rounding out the top ten were Conrad Harrison / Andy Winkle (Ireson Yamaha) and Brian Ilaria / Olly Lace (DDM Suzuki) – Lace being a very last minute stand-in for Arlo Brown, who was feeling somewhat under the weather following a successful day testing on the Friday.

There was disappointment for both Wayne Lockey / Ben Binns (LCR Honda) and Gary Horspole / Kenny Cole (Baker Suzuki), with both teams ruled out of further participation over the weekend with mechanical issues which ultimately could not be remedied in the paddock

Race one got underway late in the afternoon, and it was pole-sitters Founds / Walmsley who headed the charge up Coppice, with the Birchalls snapping at their heels. However,the leaders suffered a rare misdemeanour at The Mountain – cold tyres and the grass verge did not make a good combination as they slewed sideways, causing the outfit to flip over. With the crew relatively unscathed, their team made running repairs for the following day, whilst a re-start over a shortened distance of eight laps began.

The Birchalls took command at the front and were unheaded as they took the a lights to chequered flag victory. Holden / Lowther and the Crowe brothers provided great entertainment as there was little to separate them – close attention had to be paid with both machines running very similar paint schemes! The former crew managed to pull out several bike lengths at two thirds distance, to take second overall, and points for first place.

The Ramsdens had a strong run to fourth, having overcome a series of mechanical issues which plagued them at Anglesey last month, and also had hampered their TT campaign. Gibson / Moore were fifth, ahead of Hegarty / Neave – having their first ride in this year’s series on their brand new outfit. In the early stages there was a close battle going on between Atkinson / Middleton; Mike Jackson / Jake Roberts (DMR Suzuki); Ilaria / Lace and Chris Schofield / Shane Colbrook (Baker Honda) – unfortunately the latter crew were forced into retirement on lap six, while Atkinson / Middleton eased away to take the Cup win. In eighth Jackson / Roberts fended off Ilaria / Lace by a mere 0.2s at the chequered flag. Harrison / Winkle were tenth, four seconds ahead of Tom and Thomas Quaye (MRE Suzuki) who completed the Cup podium.

Race two was held mid-morning on Sunday, again in perfect conditions with the top six finishers forming the grid in reverse position. However, it did not take the Birchalls long to establish themselves at the front of the pack, taking their second win of the weekend. Their laptime of 1:35.958 on the fifth circulation – although not as fast as Founds / Walmsley in qualifying – was declared the official new lap record due to being set in race conditions. The aforementioned Founds / Walmsley were resigned to starting from the back of the grid following their incident in race one – a spirited performance saw them storm through to finish second overall, four seconds ahead of Holden / Lowther. Unfortunately the Crowes were ruled out after again running strongly, while the Ramsdens were only two seconds shy in fourth, ahead of wild-cards Gibson and Moore, with Hegarty / Neave placing in a relatively lonely sixth.

Harrison / Winkle – on a recently acquired Ireson Yamaha fended off the Cup chargers Atkinson / Middleton to take seventh and eighth respectively. In ninth, making a rare but welcome sidecar appearance in a Sunday only entry was top solo road racer Dean Harrison, with Benjamin Binns alongside him, riding father Conrad’s familiar Bellas Honda. Jackson / Roberts finished tenth, while taking points for second and third in the Cup were the Quayes in twelfth, and Shaun and Ben Chandler (Baker Suzuki) who fended off David Schofield / Maverick Davies (Windle Suzuki) in the dash to the flag.

Rob Atkinson & Mark Middleton – Photo By Rob Savage

The Birchalls took a third victory in race three, although chased home once again by Founds / Walmsley who scored maximum points once again, while third place saw a delighted Holden / Lowther accrue another podium finish to land the Steve Norbury Trophy, and in turn propelling them up to fifth in the standings.Another solid run from the Ramsdens saw them place fourth, only one second behind the third placed team.

Gibson / Moore had yet another impressive performance on their new CES machine, taking fifth, with Harrison / Winkle sixth. Atkinson / Middleton were seventh, while a close battle for eighth saw Jackson / Roberts fend off a determined Harrison / Binns. Ilaria / Brown were tenth overall and second in class, despite Arlo still feeling somewhat unwell (which had seen the team opt to miss the morning race) – however these points have further cemented this teams strong second place in the Cup. Twelfth placed Charlie Morphet / William Reilly (LCR Suzuki) took points for third in the F2 Cup.

As always, our thanks go out to the series sponsors: The A.C.U.; 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, the F.S.R.A. would like to acknowledge meeting hosts – B.M.C.R.C., who ran an excellent event, and to all their dedicated staff, officials, marshals, medics and all the other volunteers who were involved this weekend.

The penultimate round of the series will once be the annual visit to Croft for the “Battle Of Britain” meeting, hosted by D.D.M. C. over the weekend of the 20th and 21st August. This popular event features racing for cars and solo motorcycles, as well as sidecars.

In the meantime, please keep up to date with F.S.R.A. news, including race reports and up to date championship points on the website – www.fsra.org.uk

Brian Ilaria & Arlo Brown – Photo By Rob Savage