From Barry Nutley, photos from Mark Walters
Round two at Snetterton now seems a hundred years ago in this strange season. At Knockhill courtesy of a non-BSB round, the action on track showed that the crews were all very much up for it, bringing the true flavour of sidecar racing back to the home of former World Champion the late Jock Taylor. The trophy commemorating the great man was the award up for grabs at this event.
Four practice sessions on Saturday in clear, crisp conditions gave the strong field plenty of track time ahead of the two championship races on Sunday. Early signs were good for the reigning champions Todd Ellis and Charlie Richardson, who headed the field on the Santander Salt Honda from John Holden and Jake Lowther.
Lee Crawford and Scott Hardie were noticeably quick on their Suzuki LCR, slotting in around fifth fastest. Rob Biggs and Jeroen Schmitz also showed great Knockhill pace, just as they did on previous visits.
Qualifying – The timed session on Sunday took place on cool track conditions under cloudy skies. The track was slightly damp, but the weather was set fair, so a dry track would make life easier for everyone. Steve Kershaw and Ryan Charlwood were fast on the Santander Salt Quattro Yamaha, putting in consistently quick times.
They were headed home however by team-mates Ellis and Richardson and SBR Racing’s Lewis Blackstock/Paddy Rosney. Those two crews made up the front row. Ricky Stevens/Jonny Allum and the Christie Brothers were two other teams also in the mix at the front, both looking for podiums on the day.
Race One – From the lights the pack streamed off down Duffus Dip, with a great start by Ellis/Richardson carrying them into the early lead chased by Blackstock/Rosney.
Kershaw/Charlwood took three laps to get by and into second place before setting off after the current champion. Lap six and the gap was down to under one second, so the fight was on for the lead. Blackstock still held third with Stevens/Charlwood and Holland/Tom Christie breathing down their necks.
Lap eight and the former champion was in front on home soil. This was the track where Kershaw had a massive crash at the end of the 2015 season, but it holds no fears for him.
Half-distance and Ricky Stevens/Jonny Allum were third, with Sam and Adam Christie up to fourth ahead of John Holden/Jake Lowther and the rapid Suzuki of Lee Crawford/Scott Hardie. Tommy Philp/Tom Bryant came next and looked very much like taking the place from Crawford. Next lap that was the case. Blackstock and Rosney were out on lap ten, so it was a zero score for them.
Into the closing stages, Kershaw never looked like slipping up, and with almost a one second lead, he and Ryan Charlwood took all twenty-five points.
Race Result – 1/ Kershaw/Charlwood (Santander Salt/Quattro Yamaha),
2/ Ellis/Richardson (Santander Salt Honda), 3/ Stevens/Charlwood (WPS Racing Kawasaki), 4/ Christie/Christie (CES Yamaha), 5/ Holden/Lowther (SBR Kawasaki),
6/ Philp/Bryant (Roberts Tools Yamaha), 7/ Crawford/Hardie (Suzuki LCR), 8/ Kirk/Smithies (MK Yamaha) 9/ Biggs/Schmitz (LCR Yamaha), 10/ Bell/Sharpe (Marin Motorsport Yamaha).
Race Two – could Todd Ellis turn the tables this time around? Well, all was about to be revealed. Out went the lights and the charge was on with Kershaw/Charlwood getting the verdict on lap one. Ellis/Richardson stayed in touch and was on his case, with Stevens/Allum third.
Their Kawasaki team-mates Ben Holland/Tom Christie had a flyer and sat fourth on lap four. One lap later and John Holden squeezed the SBR Kawasaki past them to claim fourth.
The Christie brothers were attacking, but Holland kept the pressure on to hold the place.
Meanwhile, the gap at the front was next to nothing, as Ellis/Richardson set about catching the leader. Kershaw responded, and had pulled a slight gap at half distance as Tommy Philp/Tom Bryant closed in on Lee Crawford/Scott Hardie for seventh place.
With four laps to go, the pair of Santander Salt bikes at the front were formation flying, some ten seconds ahead of Stevens and Holden, the latter rider looking for a much- needed podium.
On the final lap it was incredibly close at the front. All Kershaw needed to do was keep his cool. That he did, giving him double victory and a twenty-point series lead.
Race Result – 1/ Kershaw/Charlwood, 2/ Ellis/Richardson, 3/ Stevens/Allum,
4/ Holden/Lowther, 5/ Christie/Christie, 6/ Crawford/Hardie, 7/ Bell/Sharpe, 8/ Philp/Bryant, 9/ Kirk/Smithies, 10/ Lawrie/Hyde
Standings – Kershaw 120, Ellis 100, Christie 74, Stevens 64, Holden 58, Reeves 50,
Bell 49, Blackstock 43, Philp 38, Biggs 34, Cable 31, Birchall 30.
The next round comes from Donington Park 2-4th October
Media Matters Barry Nutley email@example.com