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Photo Credit - Dirk Wharton

Lee Crawford and Patrick Farrance made it a clean sweep of wins to tie up the N.E.M.C.R.C. championship at East Fortune on the 8th and 9th October, also taking the honours for the first running of the "Ian Bell Memorial Trophy", decided as an aggregate result of all four races over the weekend for F2 sidecar competitors.

With the largest sidecar grid in recent years at East Fortune - 19 outfits in total - the scene was set for some entertaining racing, held in unseasonably good weather given the time of year. Qualifying fastest of the F2 machines, and sharing the front row of the grid with the F1 machine of Phil Bell / Tony Belsey, Team A.R.C. were looking in good shape for the weekend. However, in the opening encounter, Bell / Belsey were late to the grid, and had to start from the very back. Lee and Patrick capitalised, making an excellent getaway, breaking clear of the chasing pack in the early stages - however, with little to separate the outfits of Tony Baker / Fiona Baker-Milligan; Gordon Shand / Phil Hyde; Greg Lambert / Julie Canipa and John Lowther / Jake Lowther, the crowd were well entertained - these four teams changing positions and trying their utmost to take an initiative throughout the race. Meanwhile, the F1 of Bell / Belsey was charging through the
pack, and had made their way up to second by mid-distance, using their superior power to make in-roads into the Team A.R.C. pairing, who had already established a lead of over ten seconds over the aforementioned foursome. The inevitable happened in the closing stages, with the F1 outfit taking the opening honours, however, Lee and Patrick took the class win, by a margin of fifteen seconds from Baker / Baker-Milligan, who had eased away slightly in the latter stages from Lambert / Canipa; Shand / Hyde and the Lowthers - these three finishing within half a second of each other in a thrilling final lap.

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Photo Credit - Dirk Wharton

Race two was a rather disjointed affair, while Lee and Patrick led the opening couple of laps until Bell / Belsey used their power advantage to take charge, both stretching away from the chasing pack. However, the race was stopped at the end of lap four, as the outfit of Stuart Anderson / Sandy Mayhew had an excursion off track and had to be recovered (all o.k., barring a few overnight cosmetic repairs to the outfit). There was a restart, held over five laps, which proved to be
less eventful. Once again, Team A.R.C. took the F2 win, finishing seven seconds clear of Baker / Baker-Milligan, with the Lowthers getting the better of Shand / Hyde, while Lambert / Canipa were sidelined after part of their gearchange had sheared off just prior to the red flag. Ken Knapton / Andy Winkle and Rob Fisher / Rick Long made up the top six in the F2 class.

Team A.R.C. took the lead from the start once again in the opening race on Sunday morning, pulling away from Baker / Baker-Milligan, who unfortunately were an early retirement. It was the following F2 "train" of Shand / Hyde; Lambert / Canipa and the Lowthers who took up the chase, although this was to no avail. It was perhaps circuit debutants the Lowther brothers who were the most impressive in their pursuit of Lee and Patrick, although their charge was short lived, as they lost a full lap to the leaders after recovering from a spin at "Railway" on lap seven, after moving up to second in class. Bell / Belsey were once again first past the chequered flag, but Team A.R.C. finished twelve seconds clear of Shand / Hyde and Lambert / Canipa, who had been in close company throughout. The Lowthers finished down in eighth, a place behind Daryl Gibson / Karl Schofield, who had been impressing all weekend, in Daryl's first ever meeting as a driver.

Lee and Patrick treated the last race of the weekend with trepidation, with a pitboard in place, they maintained a gap of between five and six seconds over the pack, not wanting to make a mistake or risk a mechanical failure at the final hurdle in the chase for the trophy. Thankfully this paid off, easing a lead over the Lowthers - who once again lost some time with a near identical spin at the same place as in race one - although they did recover to finish sixth, behind the outfits of Shand / Hyde; Baker / Baker-Milligan and Lambert / Canipa.

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Photo Credit - Dirk Wharton

At the conclusion of racing, there was a presentation of awards which was made by the Bell family, and was well attended by competitors and their teams. A weekend of hard and fair racing all the way down the large field of outfits was most certainly a fitting tribute to Ian Bell at this meeting which will no doubt continue in this fashion for many years to come - credit to the N.E.M.C.R.C. for running a superb event.

Team A.R.C. this year retained the N.E.M.C.R.C. championship, competing in every race, and in turn taking maximum points from each one. Lee won eight races with Patrick, and four with Sam Christie to dominate the series, also winning the "Mac Hobson Trophy" along with the "Ian Bell Memorial Trophy".

In other news, Team A.R.C. were runners up in this years A.C.U. / F.S.R.A. British F2 Sidecar Championship, which was due to be decided at Brands Hatch last weekend, but unfortunately had to be cancelled due to a shortage of entries. They finished fifteen points clear of third placed Steve / Matty Ramsden, however, the Ramsdens have sealed the "U.K. Super 2 Sidecar Masters" title, where Team A.R.C. are currently sitting in second place. The final placings will be decided at the Auto 66 Club's "Sidecar Bash" at Cadwell Park on the 22nd and 23rd October, which is set to be the last meeting of 2016 for the team.

Lee and Patrick thank all the team and those who have attended to support them this season, and this is of course extended to sponsors: P.G. Legal; A.F. Engineering & Design Services Ltd.; Dean Banks Engine Management; KC Computers; Castle Integration; Pagid Racing; AM Leathers/Gary Partridge; Dynobike (Malton); Bio-Sport; Christie Engineering Services; Dirk Wharton Photography; Elite Meat and ARC Binchester / Newton Aycliffe.

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Photo Credit - Dirk Wharton