This final round had two unique features which could easily turn the year on its head. Both races would carry the traditional double points allocation, and in a final twist, all competitors were obliged to drop the two least productive races. Where races were missed through non-attendance, then those missed races could be included in the calculation. Todd Ellis and Emmanuelle Clement therefore, would keep all points earned thus far, as they missed three Cadwell Revival races due to world championship duties.
Lewis Blackstock and Paddy Rosney have scored every round, so they would need to shed points, provided they scored again in one or both races at Brands. It is often the case the end of season Brands Hatch closer attracts a variety of weather conditions, and that was the case for the free practice. It would have been so easy to throw it away and ruin the weekend, but Todd and Emmanuelle (LCR Brookland Yamaha) were taking no such chances. Instead, they left it to the young guns to set the standard, with Luke Williams/Jason Pitt (WSRT Yamaha) heading home Lee Crawford/Scott Hardie (ARC/Marin Motorsport Kawasaki). Joint leaders Lewis Blackstock/Paddy Rosney sat a reliable fourth fastest on the DHR/Express Tyre Services Yamaha
Qualifying – Blackstock/Rosney came out swinging with an early fast lap, with Williams/Pitt close behind. The track was dry, so times were good, whilst well shy of lap-record pace. After four laps, George Holden/Oscar Lawrence went fourth fastest, just as Ellis/Clement stormed ahead with a 1.33.684, only to eclipse that on lap nine with a 1.32.252.
Crawford/Hardie completed just two laps, obviously hitting problems, ending bottom of the pile with no more circuits completed.
Fastest Cup team were Paul and Tom Kirby, ending a very creditable fifth on their Adolf RS Yamaha ahead of fellow Cup runners Simon Robinson/Phil Hyde. Ellis/Clement and Williams/Pitt will line up on the front row for the two races, with Blackstock/Rosney and Holden/Lawrence sharing row two.
Race One – In contrast to yesterday morning, the morning was cold, crisp and clear. With the sidecar race late in the day, it would be hoped these conditions would hold. Mid-morning a heavy shower made things tricky for earlier sessions, so it was a case of crossed fingers and hope.
From the lights, the sprint to Paddock Hill Bend was won by Blackstock and Rosney, making their trademark start from row two, going straight through the middle. Luke Williams and Jason Pitt in plain black bodywork were immediately on their case and joined in the battle at the front. They matched the race leaders wheel for wheel, setting the fastest lap in the process.
Ellis claimed the lead on lap three, but Williams/Pitt went with them as they diced with Blackstock/Rosney. Up to fourth were George Holden and Oscar Lawrence on the Barnes Racing Kawasaki, who unbeknown to them were about to benefit, when at two thirds race distance, Blackstock had an electrical problem, dropping them back. He later recovered to stay in touch, but Williams wanted this one and almost passed Ellis for the lead with three laps remaining.
Cup leaders Phil Bell looked also to have a problem, as did Brian Gray and Clement Conil, spinning and jettisoning the passenger up the track.
Paul and Tom Kirby were then in the Cup hunt, but leaders of that class were Simon Robinson/Phil Hyde.
Final lap and Williams/Pitt were pushing hard, just as Ellis claimed the fastest lap of the race. Then disaster struck for Williams, and they pulled off with a blown engine. This elevated Holden/Lawrence to third behind Blackstock and Rosney, with Robinson/Hyde a fine fourth and Cup race winners, ahead of Kirk/Masters and the Kirbys. Incredibly, Williams/Pitt had just bettered Ellis with another fastest lap of 1.33.077 just before they broke down. This would earn them pole position for race two.
Result – 1/ Todd Ellis/Emmanuelle Clement (Brookland Yamaha), 2/Lewis Blackstock/Paddy Rosney (DHR/Express Tyre Services Yamaha), 3/George Holden/Oscar Lawrence (Holden Racing Kawasaki), 4/Simon Robinson/Phil Hyde (Alan Blaylock Haulage Yamaha), 5/Martin Kirk/Kyle Masters (MK Racing/5ive 8ight Designs Yamaha), 6/Paul Kirby/Tom Kirby (KRT Racing Adolf RS Yamaha), 7/Kevin Cable/Chaz Richardson (L&W Yamaha), 8/Craig Clarke/Pete Ensor (Centurion Packaging/Fine Line Sealants Honda, 9/Sam Laidlow/Jack Laidlow (Laidlow/Marin Yamaha, 10/Phil Bell/Carl Bell (Marin Motorsport Yamaha).
Race Two – Blackstock and Rosney came to the line knowing that to take the title, they would need a top three place even if Ellis/Clement were not to finish.
This was a tall order, and with a 100% record, the reigning champions were sitting pretty. Nonetheless, Blackstock gave it his best shot, once again grabbing the hole shot from the second row and leading the charge round Paddock Hill Bend from Williams/Pitt and Ellis/Clement.
The chasing pack streamed round behind, as Paul Kirby and Martin Kirk came together and got it sideways. They both went hurtling into the gravel, one of them upside down. Thankfully, both drivers and passengers escaped serious injury but were out of the race.
Attrition was high, with five outfits out of the action on the first two laps, with three others to follow as the race infolded. Nonetheless, there were sixteen finishers including a brave fight by Nicholls/Janssens to take the final place.
Meanwhile, at the front, Ellis took just two laps to muscle ahead, and once there, did not put a foot wrong. He was chased all the way by Williams/Pitt who this weekend showed what they can really do. Their future in this sport is bright, and we all hope to see a full season from them in 2024.
Blackstock/Rosney, safe in third, were on their way to runner-up spot in the series, one place better than last season. Can they go one better in 2024? only time will tell. Further back, a terrific charge by the Laidlow brothers Sam and Jack saw them get the better of first Kevin Cable/Chaz Richardson and then Simon Robinson/Phil Hyde.
The latter two outfits collided at Surtees as Robinson turned in, unaware Cable was making a play up the inside. They somersaulted and skidded off the track with Simon pinned beneath the bike. “Super-sub passenger” Phil Hyde took flight and landed feet-first before tumbling off the track. Again, no serious injury resulted, so this was good news.
Sadly, the Laidlow brothers’ efforts came to nothing as they retired from fifth place in the closing stages. They had made their mark and will be a welcome addition to the series going forward.
Meanwhile, Todd and Emmanuelle finished the job at the front, winning by eight seconds, taking the championship with an unbeaten win record.
Phil and Carl Bell had a strong sixth and were class winners, sealing their Cup class championship ahead of the unfortunate Kirby pairing, with Brian Gray/Clement Conil third, just four points adrift of Kirby.
A maximum for Rob Atkinson/Josh Smith saw the RAF F2 team take the title in that class from Greg Lambert/Andy Haynes.
Result – 1/Ellis/Clement, 2/Williams/Pitt, 3/Blackstock/Rosney, 4/Holden/Lawrence, 5/Cable/Richardson, 6/Bell/Bell, 7/Gray/Conil, 8/MacLaurin/Hope, 9/Currie/Sharp, 10/Peach/Edwards.
GP Class – 1/ Ellis/Clement (Champions), 2/Blackstock/Rosney, 3/Holden/Lawrence, 4/Kirk/Masters. 5/Biggs/Segers, 6/Currie/Sharp, 7/Christie/Christie, 8/Kershaw/Charlwood, 9/Cable/Richardson, 10/Archer/Christie
Cup Class – 1/Bell/Bell (Champions), 2/Kirby/Kirby, 3/Gray/Conil, 4/Robinson/Fairhurst, 5/Clarke/Ensor, 6/Pottinger/Dodds, 7/Bell/Colbrook, 8/Laidlow/Laidlow, 9/Peach/Edwards, 10/Williams/Pitt,
F2 Class – 1/Atkinson/Middleton/Smith (Champions), 2/Lambert/Haynes, 3/Founds/Walmsley, 4/Crawford/Hardie, 5/Gibson/Gibbons, 6/Crowe/Crowe.
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