Words – Marianne Walford
It is always a highlight of the season to be part of the Sidecar Revival meeting, where we get to see both the British Championship and the F.S.R.A. F2 championship as well as the Bemsee club sidecars and classics in the Camathias Cup. In the programme we had our own race, but due to low numbers in the BEARS class, they were added to our races on a split-start grid.
Qualifying was horrible! Although wet weather had been forecast and all were on wet tyres, the amount of standing water was unbelievable and everyone was aquaplaning on the start / finish straight and in the dip on the Back Straight.
In race one, guest riders Andrew Bingham / Dave Ryder (Shelbourne Honda) took the lead with George McMahon / Mick Ranson (Suzuki) and Gary Fairhurst / Billy Andrews (Windle Kawasaki) close behind. Bingham / Ryder retired on the fifth lap with a deflated tyre, and by this time John Stephenson / Amanda Mason (Suzuki) had become more confident in the wet and moved up from mid-field to take the lead while McMahon / Ranson fought hard to keep ahead of Redd Gilroy / Colin Smyth (Windle Yamaha), but surrendered second place to the pair on the last lap. Mark Burns / Steve Winfrow (LCR Yamaha) continued their run of bad luck and retired on the fourth lap. Derek Salleh / Jack Fairhurst (Ireson Yamaha) and Dave Crawford – with first time passenger Taylor Oldroyd (Windle Yamaha) both suffered electrical problems – no doubt due to the excessive water.
In the second race, the grey clouds and rain forecast meant that nearly everyone was still on wets, but the track had dried completely except for a little damp on the straights. Fairhurst / Andrews made a slow getaway but by the end of the first lap were up their customary lead. Guest team Danny Quirk / Alice Smith (Bellas Vincent) held second in the F1 class, while Bingham / Ryder led Gilroy / Smyth in the F2 class. Midfield saw a mix of F1s and F2s having a close battle all race long, with Burns / Winfrow finishing less than a second ahead of Salleh / Fairhurst who were just ahead of Dave Tibbles / Raitch Greenwood (DDR Suzuki).
With the Sunday forecast being much improved, it was expected we would have dry races so nearly everyone was on slicks. However, following the call for the opening race, the rain started and became extremely heavy in the collecting area. Ten teams did half a lap of warm-up and came off the track. A further two pulled off during their first lap, leaving only Fairhurst / Andrews, McMahon / Ranson and Quirk / Smith to complete race distance.
With dark clouds still passing over, it was with trepidation that the teams left the wets on for the final race of the weekend. But it was the correct choice, and finally we had a dry race. Bad luck continued for Burns / Winfrow and they did not take their place at the start. The Wintec teams of Simon Horton Maverick Davies (Ireson Suzuki) and Kenny Howles / Jordan Forrest (Ireson Krauser) were also missing, so ended up not completing any races during the weekend. Tibbles / Greenwood were going for an overtake when they lost all drive and drifted to the side with no chain on the third lap. Fairhurst / Andrews were away at the front, finishing nearly a minute ahead of the second F1 of Stephenson / Mason. Slotted between them was the F2 winners Gilroy / Smyth. Geoff & Sam Knight (Yamaha) were fighting with Salleh / Fairhurst and crossed the line just half a second behind. The rest of the field were a bit more spread out, except for Jan Tyrrell / Joanne Thomas (Baker Yamaha) who led Marianne Walford / Barbara Springall (Broadstock Yamaha) home by a few seconds.
With four rounds to go, Fairhurst / Andrews and Salleh / Fairhurst both hold good leads in the F1 and F2 championships. It seems Fairhurst is a good name to have!