British F2 Sidecar Championships Decided In Dramatic Knockhill Finale

Words – Tim Langham (F.S.R.A. Press Officer) / Photographs – David Johnston

Congratulations to Pete Founds / Jevan Walmsley (LCR Honda) and Rob Atkinson / Mark Middleton (Bellas Yamaha) who sealed the A.C.U. / F.S.R.A. British F2 Sidecar Championship and F2 Cup respectively following the penultimate race of the series on Saturday 10th September. However the day was not without drama – especially for Founds / Walmsley who despite a disappointing retirement were able to seal the title as Lee Crawford / Jake Lowther (LCR Suzuki) took a dominant win, with closest rivals Steve & Matty Ramsden (LCR Honda) taking third – meaning they were mathematically unable to catch the series leaders on the eve of the final race.

An optional familiarisation was available – and utilised by several teams – on Friday afternoon, whilst Saturday morning warm up saw twenty teams take to the circuit. Unfortunately, Wayne Lockey / Ben Binns (LCR Honda) cursed another terminal mechanical failure the day previous, allowing the wild-card reserve team of Daryl Gibson / Rhys Gibbons (CES Suzuki) to take their slot for the weekend. Also sidelined from further action were the father and daughter combination of Stuart & Courtney Anderson (Lumley Kawasaki) with a blown head gasket.

A twenty minute qualifying session just prior to the lunch break in unseasonably warm weather allowed a number of teams to put in a full race distance in their bid to land a decent grid slot. However, only eight circulations were undertaken by Crawford / Lowther to land Team A.R.C.’s third pole position of the season – this despite a spectacular spin on their second lap as they descended Duffus Dip. First time visitors Founds / Walmsley were running third for much of the session, but moved into the remaining front row slot as the session drew to a close at the expense of Ryan & Callum Crowe (LCR Honda).

John Holden / Max Vasseur (LCR Yamaha) were fourth – John utilising his fourth passenger of the series – he and Max had enjoyed podium success earlier in the season at the Chimay Road Races, and were making improvement on every lap. The Ramsdens were exactly 0.2s in arrears, with Cup leaders Atkinson / Middleton sixth. The top ten was rounded out by Gibson / Gibbons; Sean Hegarty / James Neave (Baker Honda); Brian Ilaria / Arlo Brown (DDM Suzuki) and Gary Horspole / Kenny Cole (Baker Suzuki) – the latter crew enjoying a much stronger end to the season having finally overcome their overheating issues which had frustrated them for most of 2022.

Gary Horspole & Kenny Cole

The first eighteen lap race got underway in perfect conditions on Saturday afternoon. Crawford / Lowther made their pole position count, taking a commanding 1.5s lead at the end of the opening lap, from the Crowes who had moved to second at the expense of Founds / Walmsley who had made a more lethargic getaway, losing several places – with Holden / Vasseur; the Ramsdens and Hegarty / Neave all making more fruitful starts. David Schofield / Josh Smith (Windle Honda) had also made up a number of positions from the midfield and were leading the Cup class, but lost several places after a spin, which they managed to recover from without losing too much time.

Founds / Walmsley moved into the top three on lap four, chasing the Crowes, while Crawford / Lowther were stretching an enviable lead at the front of around one second each lap – setting their fastest time of 53.112s on lap five, whilst Holden / Vasseur were holding station safely ahead of the Ramsdens. Next up were Cup leaders Atkinson / Middleton, intent on staying out of trouble with the title at the forefront of their minds, meanwhile a close encounter was going on between Hegarty / Neave and Gibson / Gibbons who were disputing seventh.

Schofield / Smith were making a good recovery through the pack, with third place in the F2 Cup standings still to be decided, with no less than five crews all within a nine point window of one another with fifty still to fight for. Ilaria / Brown were running second in class, but then suffered a spin dropping them down the field, although they had the consolation of knowing they were already assured of second in the title regardless of other results. Chris Schofield / Shane Colbrook (Baker Honda); Tom & Thomas Quaye (MRE Suzuki); Charlie Morphet / William Reilly (LCR Honda) and Bruce Moore / Amy Dodd (Ireson Honda) were all fighting hard in the top fifteen in a bid to get the better of their fellow contenders.

There was drama at the end of lap eight – while Crawford / Lowther had opened a lead of almost eleven seconds, Founds / Walmsley made a move for second, outbraking the Crowes into The Hairpin. Both crews were side by side as they entered the start and finish straight, with the machines making contact, and unfortunately both were forced into immediate retirement. The Crowes pulled into pitlane and returned to the paddock, while Founds / Walmsley pushed off the circuit with their chain off the sprockets. Holden / Vasseur inherited second place, with the Ramsdens up to third.

The chequered flag was taken by Crawford / Lowther, 19s ahead of Holden / Vasseur who were in turn 4s ahead of the Ramsdens. Hegarty / Neave took fourth, while Atkinson / Middleton were fifth – winning the F2 Cup class – and ensuring they continued their dominance of winning not only the title but every race they have started in 2022! Gibson / Gibbons were sixth, with a fairly lonely seventh place finish for Horspole / Cole. Wild-cards Gordon Shand / Tony Belsey (Shand Suzuki) were eighth, with Mike Jackson / Jake Roberts (DMR Suzuki) in ninth. Schofield / Smith made an excellent recovery from their earlier spin, to take tenth – second in the Cup – with younger brother Schofield / Colbrook in eleventh and completing the Cup podium. A notable mention goes to Josh Smith – winning his first trophy, which he immediately dropped in the presentation – unfortunately being glass it smashed into hundreds of pieces! (Thanks to Knockhill for an immediate replacement).

Sean Hegarty & James Neave

Prior to the start of race one, only the Ramsdens were mathematically able to deny Founds / Walmsley an unprecedented fifth British Championship – and their third place finish was not enough – so even with the disappointment of their non-finish, the pressure was off and Team Founds were able to celebrate their success that evening.

A milder day dawned on Sunday – but despite a threat of rain in earlier forecasts – the day remained dry for the closing event of the 2022 campaign. With Atkinson / Middleton having taken the Cup title, and agreeing a sale for their outfit to Schofield / Smith, they chose not to compete, and Schofield / Smith took part on their newly acquired machine.

A reverse top six grid was no deterrent for race one winners Crawford / Lowther, who led at the end of lap one, while Founds / Walmsley were picking up places from the back row. Horspole / Cole were putting up an impressive show, running third from their front row start, while the Ramsdens moved into second. Holden / Vasseur were fourth, with Hegarty / Neave were pushing Gibson / Gibbons for fifth.

By lap four, Crawford / Lowther had opened up a seven second lead over Holden / Vasseur, Hegarty / Neave third, with Founds / Walmsley pushing the Ramsdens down to fifth, while Horspole / Cole were still inside the top six. However, proceedings came to an abrupt halt, with a red flag incident as Schofield / Smith had a minor incident from which they emerged unscathed, but their stricken outfit required recovery.

A shortened 12-lap re-start was declared with the original reverse grid standings. There was huge disappointment for the initial leaders Crawford / Lowther who opted not to compete – concerns over oil pressure saw them make the wise decision not to risk damaging the motor and they returned to the paddock.

An excellent display from Gibson / Gibbons saw them take command from the start and led at the end of lap one from Holden / Vasseur and Hegarty / Neave. The Ramsdens were now assured of second in the championship standings due to Team A.R.C.’s absence without any pressure – but were soon caught by Founds / Walmsley who quickly cut through the pack and into the top six.

An immense battle was raging in the midfield with the F2 Cup podium being disputed by the wild-card team of Craig Goodier / Mark Stone (LCR Suzuki) with Schofield / Colbrook; the Quayes; Ilaria / Brown and Morphet / Reilly. This group provided immensely close racing throughout – ensuring third in the Cup would not be settled until the final lap of the season!

Gibson / Gibbons were impressing as they led until half distance – after holding off the wily Holden / Vasseur who eventually found a way through, as did the charging Founds / Walmsley who set off in close pursuit of the leaders. However, Gibson / Gibbons looked set for at least a deserved podium finish, with fourth placed Hegarty / Neave struggling to get on terms, despite easing away from the Ramsdens who were circulating in fifth.

Horspole / Cole were fighting hard to fend off Jackson / Roberts for the final top six place – however, there was once again drama at The Hairpin on lap ten, as the two machines collided. Jackson / Roberts were able to accelerate away, while Horspole / Cole had to recover from an “almost” spin – but were able to complete the race despite damage to their wheel-arch.

Holden / Vasseur took a popular win, crossing the line just 0.4s ahead of Founds / Walmsley. It appeared that Gibson / Gibbons had taken third place, but were adjudged to have made a jump start and incurred a ten second penalty, which dropped them to fifth; this promoted Hegarty / Neave to third and the Ramsdens to fourth. Despite the minor incident, Jackson / Roberts took sixth, and Horspole / Cole seventh.

Veteran Tony Baker / Leon Fitzpatrick (Baker Suzuki) came home in eighth – just ahead of a four outfit battle of Cup teams which raged into The Hairpin on the final lap. Goodier / Stone were first across the line, while Ilaria / Brown fended off Schofield / Colbrook to take second and third in class just ahead of the Quayes. The results worked in favour of Schofield / Colbrook, who finished third overall in the Cup in what had been a very challenging season for them.

Thanks as ever go to the A.C.U., along with 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 the F.S.R.A. would like to thank the Knockhill Racing Club and all their dedicated staff, officials, marshals, medics and all the other volunteers involved in running the event, and for inviting the series to the “Jock Taylor Memorial Races” once again – a great weekend with lots of sidecar action throughout. This was a really well-organised meeting with a generous amount of tracktime – definitely worth the long journey for several of the teams who made the effort to attend from further afield.

The next major event in the calendar for the F.S.R.A. is the A.G.M. and Annual Dinner and Dance on Saturday 19th November – details of which are available, along with all other F.S.R.A. news, including race reports and up to date championship points on the website –

Final Super F2 Points
Final F2 Cup Points