The first round of the ACU/FSRA British Formula 2 Sidecar Championship took place on the 7th/8th April at Oulton Park in Cheshire and was hosted by the North Gloucester Road Racing Club.
There were two twenty minute test sessions in the morning for those that had entered as part of the track day on Friday and followed by warm up and qualifying later in the afternoon. It was a cool breezy day with sunshine forecasted for the afternoon.
On to the fifteen minute qualifying session and the sun did indeed come out and so did the blistering pace of reigning champions Peter Founds & Jevan Walmsley who set a time of 1:49.153 on lap two which was just 0.05s outside lap record pace, in second was wildcard entrants Holden/Winkle with a time of 1:50.865, third was the Ramsdens with 1:53.299. Halfway through the session Team ARC of Lee Crawford & Patrick Farrance recorded their fastest time of 1:50.207 to slot into second place and Steve and Matty Ramsden noted a 1:50.420 to gain third on the grid for race one.
The race started in bright sunshine just before midday on Saturday, and leading the way after lap one was the Team Founds Racing/Trustland Construction LCR Suzuki of Peter Founds/Jevan Walmsley who were 1.5 seconds ahead of the Team ARC 600 LCR Suzuki of Lee Crawford/Patrick Farrance; who in turn were 0.268s in front of Barnes Racing Messrs Holden/Cain. Steve & Matty Ramsden of Ramsden Racing were holding fourth place a second in front of 5th Harrsion/Winkle (Printer Roller Services), 6th Lowther/Lowther (Team ARC) and 7th Gibson/Gibson (GDM Logistics). In 8th postion was the first F2 Cup runner - Team Dynobike - Dukes/Moralee on their Baker Honda leading a trio of Cup teams: Remnant/Tilley, Ilaria/James and Anderson/Gravel.
With two laps completed the pairing of Founds/Walmsley had broken the lap record, posting a lap time of 1:48.780 and were now 3.3s ahead of Crawford/Farrance. The positions stayed the same in the top eight, further down the order Ilaria/James had moved ahead of Remnant/Tilley. There was no noticeable change for the remainder of the race until lap 6 and the Founds/Walmsley partnership lowered the lap record even further registering a time of 1:48.693.
After the eighth and final lap Founds/Walmsley headed Crawford/Farrance by 13.427s with Holden/Cain in 3rd 2.791s back. The Ramsdens finished in 4th just 0.310s behind Holden/Cain. The race long battle for 5th went to Harrison/Winkle just 0.145s in front of Lowther/Lowther. The Gibsons claimed 7th place just 1.789s in front of leading F2 cup runners Dukes/Moralee. In 9th position Shand/Hyde and making the top ten and 2nd in the F2 Cup Ilaria/James of Team Powerhouse. The rest of the positions are as follows 11th Remnant/Tilley, 12th Anderson/Gravel, 13th Alton/Brotherton, 14th Jackson/Crowe, 15th Dickinson/Dickinson, 16th Stainton/Stainton, 17th King/Gillard, 18th Downes/Hainsworth, 19th Pettman/Porter, 20th Costello/Deeley (yes thats Maria Costello MBE) 21st Wilby/Lowther.
There were three teams who retired:
So onto race two which took place on a warm afternoon just after 4pm and over 10 laps.
The team of Crawford/Farrance took the lead from Founds/Walmsley with Holden/Winkle in third. Just before the end of lap one, Founds/Walmsley made a move at Lodge on Crawford/Farrance and crossed the line after lap one. Holden/Cain moved ahead of Crawford/Farrance on lap 3, the gap just 0.073s and the margin to the leaders had gone out to 4.703s. A further 0.922s back were the Ramsdens who in turn were 0.638s ahead of Harrison/Winkle.On lap 5 unfortunately for Crawford/Farrance they had to retire due to a gear selector issue.
The race came to a premature end on lap 8, due to a red flag incident at Cascade's – driver and passenger both o.k.
A double win for reigning champions Founds/Walmsley. 2nd Holden/Cain, 3rd Ramsden/Ramsden, 4th Harrison/Winkle, 5th Lowther/Lowther, 6th Gibson/Gibson, 7th Dukes/Moralee, 8th Shand/Hyde, 9th Ilaria/James, 10th Remnant/Tilley, 11th Anderson/Gravel, 12th Alton/Brotherton, 13th Jackson/Crowe, 14th Stainton/Stainton, 15th King/Gillard, 16th Pettman/Porter, 17th Costello/Deeley, 18th Wilby/Lowther.
Here is hoping with just one week to go before the next round at Cadwell Park over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend the teams that suffered mechanical issues can get them ironed out in time for the next installment.