After the success of the 2014 season, it's fair to say that we had some pretty big boots to fill if we wanted to continue in those giant footsteps. The 2015 season saw our return to the Isle of Man TT Races, where we finished 11th and 6th in 2014, lapping at over 107mph and our return to the British F2 sidecar championships,although after winning the F2 cup championship last year, we were now in the elite Super F2 Championship in which we finished a close 2nd in 2014.
For the 2015 season we had the addition of a new rev counter/ data logging dash fitted by Steve at GWR Motorsport and we also had a new exhaust fitted from Cybox Exhausts - a brilliant opportunity for us to test their special design on a sidecar.
We were helped out massively this year from our fantastic sponsors
Trustland Construction, PME Aerospace, Morris Lubricants, AV Craine & sons,
Motrac, Phil Morris Racing and more recently Hel Performance.
2015 also saw Team Founds Racing become a two sidecar team with the addition of older brother Pete who was to be contending in the championship for the first time on his newly bought LCR sidecar.
The first race of the year was held at our local circuit Oulton Park, this was a one day event, meaning a very hectic day and a tight schedule to abide too. About 30 sidecars turned up showing the new contenders for the championship; some old faces and some new faces but it certainly showed that this was going to be a difficult year to win races. Undeterred, we qualified on pole position and finished 2nd in both close fought races. This left us in 2nd position overall in the championship, 7 points adrift of the top.
Round 2 of the British championship was held at Silverstone on the international circuit, a new circuit for us to learn having never been there before. After an essential practice day prior to the race meeting allowing us to learn the circuit, we managed to secure pole position again for the start of the races. In race 1 we again finished a very close second to the championship leader and in race 2 we finally got our win finishing 1st by over 5 seconds. This was also enough of a winning margin to take the Sam Hamilton Trophy, awarded to the aggregate winner of the two races. After round two then, we were still in second position 7 points from the top of the championship table still.
ISLE OF MAN TT
Next stop was the Isle of Man TT races, with both bikes competing, myself and Tom's second year and brother Pete's newcomer year. The practice week saw some of the worst weather ever seen in the TT fortnight with winds that tore awnings and tents down and rain that barely stopped. Needless to say, the practice schedule was full of cancellations and prior to race 1 we had completed just 5 laps of the TT mountain circuit under practice conditions! Unbelievably though we managed to qualify 7th fastest with a lap speed of 110.4mph.
Trying not to let this lap time and qualifying position go to our heads, we started race 1 with the sight to keep learning the course and most importantly, finish the race. We did both of those things and to our excitement and jubilation we finished Race 1 in 5th position lapping the course at 111.9mph. Brother Pete who had additional complications to weather in practice week finished in a brilliant 25th position, the fastest newcomer to finish!
Race 2 was to be a different result for both teams and saw neither team complete the 3 lap race. Overheating caused Tom and I to retire after lap one and unfortunately Pete retired on lap one as well after a water cooling hose burst. A disappointing race 2 then but we still left the Isle of Man feeling happy, having bettered our 2014 6th position with the 5th position and mega lap times considering the troublesome practice and race week's weather.
Back to the British Championship then, Round 3 at another new circuit to Team Founds, Castle Coombe. This saw a wild card entry from this year's TT winners, hot from their success on the island. It was to be another hard round with such a calibre of people to race against we could only manage to qualify on the 2nd row in 4th position. In race 1 then we had a tall order to get to the front but with some brilliantly close racing, as ever from this close and competitive championship, we managed to finish on the podium in 3rd position, putting us 12 points from the top of the championship. In race 2 we were determined to better that result and not let the championship leader get away at the top of the table. We entered the 1st corner in second position and kept it for a few laps before out breaking and overshooting through a chicane, relegating us to 5th. The gap was too much to reach the leading four and so that's where we finished, in a disappointing 5th position. Pete however, led the race until the last lap and lost out in the final corners to finish 2nd as well as smashing the outright lap record. This result kept us in second position in the championship, 15 points from the leader.
Next to round 4 of the British Championship, which was taking place at another local circuit, Anglesey. This is a circuit which had previously seen bad luck and a few crashes for me and Tom, it was not a round we were looking forward to! The meeting actually turned out to be quite pivotal to our championship hopes and possibly our greatest race meeting we have ever competed at. The qualifying went perfect for us and we took pole position in the dry, sunny conditions. In race 1 we led from the start and gapped the field behind us to finish the 20 lap race in 1st position, 11 seconds clear. Race 2 was a contrast in conditions as it was wet all day and absolutely bucketed down just as we were waiting to go to the grid. The start was essential here- visibility is the issue in the wet caused by the spray off the 10" rear tyres. We got away perfectly and led into the first corner and that's where we stayed for the 17 laps until it got red flagged due to an incident and worsening conditions. After round 4 then and the two race wins, we were leading the championship by 7 points.
The next race meeting in the Team Founds calendar was not planned at the start of the season but with the funding from our sponsors, John and Les at Trustland construction, we headed off to Oschersleben in Germany for the FIM Sidecar World F2 Trophy. As an international race meeting it was great to race against teams from all around the world and good to see the strong calibre of F2 sidecar racing. We qualified 4th and so started the races on row 2 of the grid. Race one saw some close action for 2nd position and after a slight coming together with our British championship rivals we were lucky to bring the bike home and finish in 3rd position.
Race 2 then saw much the same results with the top three finishing in the same order and so giving us a 3rd place overall and 3rd in the World! Brother Pete with his stand in German passenger, Stefan, finished 4th overall, a brilliant result and weekend for Team Founds Racing in the World F2 Trophy.
Back on local soil, it was off to round 5 of the British Championships, held at Cadwell Park. We qualified 4th position and started the race from the second row. The start of race 1 saw a busy first lap and true to the championship this year, the racing was nose to tail and we were holding 4th position. After yet another coming together with our championship rival, we had a slight moment on the grass before getting back on track but in 6th position. The incident however saw the championship rival retire from the race and we then had to battle to get ourselves back into 3rd position, where we finished the race.
This took our championship lead to 23 points. In race 2, it was another busy start and we slotted into 4th position, moving up to 3rd by lap 5. It was only too short lived as we suffered a rear puncture and had to retire from the race. Our championship contender finished 3rd and so reduced our comfy lead to 7 points again with the one round left to go.
The final round of the British championship was to be held at the aptly named Battle of Britain meeting at Croft circuit. We basically had to beat our championship rival in both races to secure the title and with a 3rd place qualifying position, one ahead of our rival, it was going to be a close race. Race 1 got under way and we didn't get the best of starts, relegated to 4th position and struggling to stay with the leading three. On lap 4 we spun dramatically but fortunately stayed on the track and managed to continue, albeit in 6th position.
With visions of the title hopes narrowing, the next lap we saw our title contender off the track and standing away from his bike, unfortunately he had lost his passenger and it had put him out of the race. An opportunity for us to put points between us and them in the championship, we fought our way back to 3rd position to take the chequered flag. Brother Pete finishing in an excellent 2nd. This moved us 23 points clear at the top but not clinching the victory just yet.
We had to finish the race in at least 14th position or if we didn't finish at all, our rival had to finish 1st to beat us to the championship title. Race 2 then was all about reliability and we needed to finish the race, problem free.
We got a great start and took 3rd position into the first corner, content on watching the leading pair battle it out for the race win. We stayed in 3rd until the last lap where we were passed and with nothing to lose, happily relegated to 4th, to cross the finish line with big brother Pete fantastically taking the race win. We had finally done it, we were 2015 British F2 Sidecar Champions.
Where to start then for the reflection of our fairy tale year. As far as championships go, this is the closest and most competitive sidecar championship running at present and without doubt the best F2 series in the world right now.
Thanks then must go to the FSRA for organising such a competitive championship and to all teams within for the unbelievably high standard of racing.
For this reason, Team Founds Racing has grown rapidly from strength to strength throughout the year and the support which we have had from our team and sponsors has been second to none.
Without this support it's certain to say that we never would be British Champions and the two Team Founds Racing sidecar crews amongst the best in the world today.
From the massive team we have preparing an immaculate sidecar, catering at every round and cheering us on from home or at the track, to our sponsors for allowing us to achieve our dreams and successes - We are so thankful to you all.
Tom and I always hoped we would better the 2014 season but with such big shoes to fill, it was never going to be easy. Our team, sponsors and supporters however never doubted us and we can now repay this hard work with the 2015 British F2 Championship title for all of Team Founds Racing. We thank you all.
Alan Founds #44