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Photograph Courtesy Of Dirk Wharton

Team A.R.C. were recognised for their achievements during the 2016 road racing season at the F.S.R.A. annual presentation and dinner dance; on Saturday 26th November at the Radisson Blu East Midlands Hotel, collecting an impressive array of silverware.

Despite the A.C.U. / F.S.R.A. British F2 Sidecar Championship finishing prematurely, owing to the cancellation of the final round at Brands Hatch, Lee and Patrick (who was unfortunately unable to attend the presentation owing to family commitments) finished in a comfortable runners up position to worthy winners Pete Founds and Jevan Walmsley. Placing third, a further fifteen points in arrears were the very consistent father and son pairing, Steve and Matty Ramsden. In addition to receiving their championship trophies, Lee also retained the "Committee Cup" (awarded for presentation, loyalty and endurance to the championship season) - which he had first won in 2015. The team were also presented with the prestigious "Steve Webster Trophy" - chosen by the record holding ten times world sidecar champion - for their achievements this year.

Finishing as runners-up in the British Championships, in only the team's second full year contesting the series was a remarkable achievement, particularly given they had suffered a number of mechanical issues in the early part of the season, struggling at times for straight line speed.

Consistent podium finishing in the first three races - at Oulton Park and race one at Donington saw the team poised to capitalise on any error from pace-setters Founds and Walmsley. However, cruel luck pushed Lee and Patrick down the standings to fourth place following an engine failure within sight of the chequered flag on the last lap in race two at a sweltering Donington Park.

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Photograph Courtesy Of Dirk Wharton

The championship then took a break for the Isle of Man T.T. - with events which were to overshadow the entire season, with the loss of two outstanding and popular competitors. Attendances dropped at the following rounds for a variety of reasons, with something of a subdued atmosphere.

The championship resumed at Anglesey at the end of June.

Race one saw a rare non-finish for Founds / Walmsley. Two laps later the same misdemeanour cursed Team A.R.C., allowing the Ramsdens to take their first win of the year, propelling themselves into second position in the table.

As in 2015, Sunday was a day of torrential rain, and Lee and Patrick excelled in these conditions, hounding the Ramsdens, until the race was red flagged in the closing stages as the leaders collided with a back-marker. Team A.R.C. took a resounding win by over half a minute from Founds / Walmsley, with the Ramsdens consigned to the sidelines.

Now at the half way stage, Team A.R.C. headed to Cadwell Park with trepidation - having suffered mechanical failures in several other non-championship events in recent weeks, thoughts of "damage limitation" and picking up points were solely on their minds.
Handling problems in practice saw a disappointing qualifying session, however, two podium places in the races were encouraging, propelling Lee and Patrick into second place in the championship standings - this meeting also saw youngsters Lewis Blackstock / Paddy Rosney firmly establish themselves as regular top three contenders, running consistently at the front - as they had at the previous Anglesey round.

While Team A.R.C. had hoped to continue their run of wins at home circuit, Croft, despite snatching their first pole position of the year, unfortunately they had to settle for two runners-up placings. The seemingly unstoppable Founds / Walmsley took yet another brace of wins, in what turned out to be the final round of the series, as entries for the season finale at Brands Hatch were disappointing giving the club and F.S.R.A. little choice but to cancel the class at this meeting.

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Photograph Courtesy Of Dirk Wharton

Elsewhere, Team A.R.C. absolutely dominated the North East Motorcycle Racing Club Championship, taking maximum points in every race this year. They retained the "Mac Hobson Trophy" at Croft in April, the first team to do so for a quarter of a century, and also won the inaugural "Ian Bell Memorial Trophy" at East Fortune in October, in one of the most poignant moments of the season.

Sam Christie joined with Lee at all of the Oliver's Mount meetings this year, with an impressive run of results, including two runners up places and a fastest lap at the "Spring Cup"; two third places and a second (all from the back of the grid) at the "Cock O'The North"; a sole second place at the "Barry Sheene Classic"; and a third and fifth placing at the "International Gold Cup".

These excellent results proved a solid foundation in finishing second in the "U.K. Super 2 Sidecar Series" - an outstanding achievement, given that results from the T.T. and Southern 100 are factored, neither of which had been contested by Lee.

Lee and Patrick also proved unbeatable at the Auto 66 Club "Sidecar Bash" with five F2 class wins, in an event which was attended by almost 100 teams.

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Photograph Courtesy Of Dirk Wharton

Next season, Team A.R.C. will be contesting the seven round A.C.U. / F.S.R.A. British F2 Sidecar Championship, plus the four Scarborough meetings. They will also be looking to defend the North East M.C.R.C. title, and contest as many other events as time and scheduling will allow. While the British Championships struggled somewhat for entries in the latter part of 2016, initial prospects for next season already sound promising, with several returnees to the series, along with a number of newcomers pledging to participate.

The team would like to express their sincere gratitude to all those who have sponsored and / or provided trade support this year, it is greatly appreciated. To: 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 - we look forward to hopefully continuing these partnerships into 2017 and beyond.

Lee would personally like to thank all the passengers who have assisted him this year in racing and testing: Patrick Farrance; Sam Christie; Adam Christie; Jake Lowther; Matty Ramsden; Harry Payne and Tom Pugh. Also, to the whole support team for their hard work and effort through the year at meetings, preparing the machine, doing administration, catering etc. Last, but certainly by no means least, thank you to Mike Crawford for all of his effort and dedication which he tirelessly puts into the team.

Everyone at Team A.R.C. would like to wish all fellow competitors, teams, organisers, volunteers and supporters of the sport the very best wishes for Christmas, and a safe and successful 2017 season.

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Photograph Courtesy Of Dirk Wharton