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With the sounds and sights of a thrilling 2018 season now behind us, eyes are firmly turned to the new year ahead.

Before that though, the FIM General Assembly and awards presentation takes place in Andorra la Vella over the weekend of December 1/2.

It is on that prestigious stage that Ben and Tom Birchall will stand to receive their outright World Championship Winner's Medals.

One month later, at the British Championship awards ceremony, the Santander Salt crews of Steve Kershaw/Stuart Clark and Todd Ellis/Charlie Richardson will be presented with their trophies for outright British and 600 Cup victories respectively.

Both these crews dominated their respective classes, with Ellis and Richardson distinguished as runners-up in the main title chase on a 600 Honda. 

It is highly likely that these championship winning crews will be locking horns on track in the season ahead.

With both the World Championship and the British series now fully 600cc powered, it is widely expected that more British crews will venture abroad in 2019 to seek points in the FIM campaign. By the same token, subject to dates being free, World Series regulars could certainly compete here in Britain, as the Birchall Brothers did in 2018.

 

Gary Horspole and Jimmy Connell were at Brands Hatch over the weekend racing in the final two races of the 2018 British Sidecar Championship where they recorded a ninth and 18th place in an effort to retain their fifth place in the overall standings but they just missed out and had to settle for sixth at the end of an eventful series.

Horspole from Sleaford and Scottish passenger Connell completed their qualifying in 16th place and began the first race from an eighth row grid position on Saturday.

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Qualifying –  Strong winds, but dry grey conditions were almost perfect going for the twenty-minute session. With thirty outfits entered, a good time would be crucial for the opening race, with a reverse grid  applying for race two.

Double points were up for grabs in this finale, and a record entry ensured great racing.

Newly crowned Champions Steve Kershaw and Stuart Clarke were immediately on the pace and laid down a marker well inside the fastest free practice time.

Lap five and they were within one second of lap-record time on the 1000cc Santander Salt Kawasaki, almost two seconds faster than the quickest 600 of Tim Reeves and Mark Wilkes, with the Birchall brothers holding third a fraction behind Reeves.

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Qualifying – On the fast Cathedral of Speed circuit, there was something of a surprise when a returning Tim Reeves and Mark Wilkes, current world championship leaders, took provisional pole on their 600cc Adolf RS chassis'd Carl Cox Motorsport Yamaha.

This was later bettered by the newly crowned British Champions Steve Kershaw and Stuart Clark .
Whilst Reeves and Wilkes's outright speed was well down on the 1000cc Santander Salt Kawasaki of Kershaw and Clark, the multiple world champion was very fast through the turns and tighter sections, and ran them very close indeed.
With their world championship lead slashed to one single point ahead of the decider, Tim Reeves needed track time to establish the cause of his mechanical woes.
Continuing mechanical issues here in Holland with overheating oil led to a replacement engine being fitted for the opening race. As things turned out, the problem was solved, more than justifying the trip to Holland.

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The penultimate round of this year's championship takes place September 28-30 at Assen in the Netherlands with Steve Kershaw and Stuart Clarke in celebratory mood.
They clinched the title at Cadwell Park last time out, and will be dead set on continuing their winning form at the Cathedral of Speed.

The chase for second place in the championship is still very much alive however. Kershaw's team-mates Todd Ellis and Charlie Richardson sit there at the moment on the Santander Salt 600 Honda, but Gary Bryan and Phil Hyde (1000 GBR Kawasaki), along with former champions Ricky Stevens and Ryan Charlwood on the Quattro Plant JG Speedfit 600 Kawasaki are easily within touch.
Ellis and Stevens are also locked in a battle for 600cc Cup honours, so they have a double target.

 

Qualifying – Just sixteen crews lined up through free practice and into the one qualifying session.
The 600cc powered outfits gave a good account of themselves, with Todd Ellis/Charlie Richardson and Ricky Stevens/Ryan Charlwood enjoying their second championship visit this season to this picturesque circuit. The well documented events of the previous Cadwell Park round are still accounting for the low turn-out, and will continue to do so for the remainder of the 2018 season.


Series leaders Steve Kershaw and Stuart Clark left it late to claim pole position, and they did it in style. The existing lap record held by Tim and Tristan Reeves was bettered by the Scots, as they recorded an impressive final lap in the session of 1.32.153, a clear one point four seconds ahead of team-mates Todd Ellis and Chaz Richardson.
Kershaw and Clark could now look forward to the two races from which they needed just two podium finishes to wrap up the title.
Seven seconds covered the top ten, so racing would be good.

 

Race One – Gary Bryan and Phil Hyde flew off the line last the pole-sitters to head the pack on the opening lap.


Steve Kershaw and Stuart Clark took their time to get going, but once away, they slotted into second place followed by the 600 Cup leaders Todd Ellis and Charlie Richardson.
Behind them and charging, came the Quattro Plant JG Speedfit Kawasaki of Ricky Stevens and Ryan Charlwood.
The battle between these two outfits was always destined to be close, but no-one was prepared for what came next.
On the exit from Barn Corner, concluding lap two, Ellis was on the tail of Kershaw with nowhere to go. He actually touched the back-end of his teammate. For that split second, Stevens saw his chance and pulled alongside and ahead of the Santander Salt Honda along the straight.
Entering the fast left-hander of Coppice, Ellis and Stevens had a “coming together”, the result of which was a smashed nose-cone for Ellis, and a damaged rear-end for Stevens.
Both 600 Cup contenders were therefore out of the running.
A gleeful Gary Horspole and Jimmy Connell took the Baker Plant/Sleaford Quality Foods Kawasaki into third, and there they stayed until the flag. Behind them and closing were Andy Peach/Ken Edwards.
Peach and Edwards have the speed in parts, but are still suffering from what Andy describes as a “dog-slow” engine.
The Ellis/Stevens contact was adjudged a “racing incident” with no blame apportioned, so that left the field open for Kershaw and Clark to clinch the title in the opening race.
Horspole and Connell protected their fifth in the title chase with another solid Cadwell podium.
Astonishingly, exactly half the entry did not finish the race for one reason or another, so there were points for just eight competitors.

 

Result – 1/ Kershaw/Clark (Santander Salt/Express Tyres Kawasaki), 2/ Gary Bryan/Phil Hyde (GBR Kawasaki), 3/ Gary Horspole/James Connell (Sleaford Quality Foods/Baker Plant Kawasaki), 4/ Andy Peach/Ken Edwards (Life Safety Motorsport Yamaha), 5/ Rob Biggs/Justin Sharp (Taurus Tools Honda), 6/ Dean Nicholls/Kenny Cole (Lick Racing Kawasaki), 7/ Brian Gray/Jason Pitt (Brian Gray Powerbiking Yamaha), 8/ Nev Jones/Rob Child (Harvey Fabrication Yamaha)

 

Race Two – Overnight rain had subsided, but was still in the air carried by a strong wind for the second encounter. Track conditions however, were ideal for the ten lap race, and with only eight finishers from race one, the reverse grid saw Nev Jones on pole position.


Gary Bryan had a plan which theoretically would launch him through the first two rows, and into an early lead. That did not entirely work out.
Things were fascinating in the early laps as Dean Nicholls/Kenny Cole and Gary Horspole/Jimmy Connell used their big engines to great effect off the line and made everyone work for a living.
These two crews actually made a terrific race of it, to such an extent that even the newly crowned champions Kershaw and Clarke found themselves in the thick of the fight through the field.
The Draper Racing Yamaha of Simon Gilbert and Jack Tritton was another of the big engined outfits making a strong showing. Always a tough opponent and hard racer, Gilbert was difficult to get by, particularly on the narrow Cadwell Park track.
Bryan and Hyde eventually made it through to lead but it was far from easy. Dean Nicholls and Kenny Cole, probably having their best race this year, also proved to be hard to get by and their efforts lasted race long, with a fine sixth place the end result.
It was almost half distance before the champions Kershaw and Clarke swept by Gary Bryan to take the lead and claim their sixteenth victory. In doing so, on lap four, they crushed Tim and Tristan Reeves' lap record by half a second.

Meanwhile, from the back of the grid, the two 600 Cup rivals Todd Ellis/Chaz Richardson and Ricky Stevens Ryan Charlwood were having their own fantastic fight through the field.
Well aware of each other's capabilities, and events which have seen them clash in the previous two races, they battled through respectfully and kept out of trouble. Ellis took the most out of the race by eventually muscling the Santander Salt Honda to a fine third place podium and precious points.
The Quattro Plant JG Speedfit Kawasaki of Stevens and Charlwood was just two places behind, with Gary Horspole and Jimmy Connell well in their sights at the flag. They consolidated their fourth place in the table, but with double points in the finale at Brands Hatch, the top of the table behind Kershaw is still wide open.
This was a great exhibition of sidecar racing in front of a live Eurosport TV audience, and kept the supportive Cadwell faithful very much on their toes.
Sadly, Andy Peach and Ken Edwards were not to repeat their good earlier result, as gremlins put the out on lap eight after another strong showing .
With twelve strong finishers, the action all the way down the field lasted from lights to flag.

Result – 1/ Kershaw/Clark, 2/ Bryan/Hyde, 3/ Ellis/Richardson, 4/ Stevens/Charlwood,
5/ Horspole/Connell, 6/ Nicholls/Cole, 7/ Gilbert/Tritton, 8/ Gray/Pitt, 9/ Biggs/Sharp,
10/ Shand/Belsey

Standings – Kershaw/Clark 456 (Champions), Ellis 254, Bryan 237, Stevens 200, Horspole 165, Birchall 130, Gray 130, Gilbert 117, Nicholls 113, Biggs 99, Bell 86,
Peach 65

Cup Points – Ellis 349, Stevens 296, Gray 247, Biggs 188, Birchall 150, Peach 134, P Founds 91, Shand 73.

The next round comes from Assen in Holland in five weeks time, with highlights from Cadwell to follow on www.rkb-f1-sidecars.com and on Motorsport TV

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North Kelsey sidecar driver Todd Ellis and passenger Charlie Richardson were competing at Thruxton at the weekend in the seventh round of the British Sidecar championship where they recorded two fourth places and picked up 26 points in the main championship and a brace of third places in the 600 cup to pick up 32 points to retain their lead in that championship.

 

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F1 Sidecar driver Gary Bryan from North Kelsey and passenger Phil Hyde rode to three top six places in the three races at Thruxton last weekend picking up a further 34 points to remain in third place in the overall rider standings.

The pair qualified in sixth place to start race one from the third row but were unable to make any progress towards the front of the field and remained in a strong sixth place throughout the eight laps.

 

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Returning to the scene of quadruple victories earlier in the season, the Santander Salt/Express Tyres Kawasaki duo of Steve Kershaw and Stuart Clark are agonisingly close to their first ever British Championship title.
With fourteen victories from the seventeen races run so far, their track record is impressive.
Cadwell Park in Lincolnshire is the scene for round eight next weekend (17-19 August), and is also the scene of a spate of incidents earlier in the year which decimated the field. Several of those crews affected in those crashes have yet to regain financial or physical fitness.
Needing just thirty-two points to become the first Scottish rider to wrap up the title since Jock Taylor, Kershaw will be full of anticipation ahead of Cadwell. Anywhere on the podium in both races will suffice, and that has to be their game plan.

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Portsmouth’s Quattro Plant JG Speedfit Kawasaki sidecar team made the 460 mile round trip to Oulton Park in Cheshire for round two of the British Sidecar Championship. Since the first round at Brands Hatch three weeks ago driver Ricky Stevens from Portsmouth and Dover based passenger Ryan Charlwood have had a busy couple of weeks having raced at the first round of the World sidecar Championship at the iconic Le Mans circuit in France, where they had a superb fifth place finish on a circuit they had never raced at before.

 

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Glorious weather blessed the paddock for the entire weekend in Cheshire.


Due to clashes with the FIM World Championship, and a British F2 round at Mallory Park, the grid was significantly lower than normal. Notable non-starters were Ben and Tom Birchall and John Holden Lee Cain as they headed for the Slovakiaring.
Brands Hatch winners Peter Founds/Jevan Walmesly opted to defend their F2 title, so were another high-profile crew missing from the line-up.
Those crews who did make the journey for the one and only race, were rewarded with great racing and a chunky share of the available points.

Free practice was a good indicator of how things might pan out with the big bikes versus the 600's. One or two 600 crews were trying out the short chassis version ahead of the Isle of Man TT.

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A dramatic opening round at Brands Hatch two weeks ago saw Scots Steve Kershaw and Stuart Clark leave Kent leading the British Sidecar Championship for the first time in their career.
Their 1000cc Santander Salt Kawasaki was freshly rebuilt after a crash testing in France, and they were still sorting the geometry.
That however, did not stop them following the Birchall Brothers home in race one, and claiming third behind the Founds brothers Peter and Alan in a wet second outing.
At Oulton Park for round two, there will be plenty of crews lining up for revenge, so Kershaw and Clark will have their hands full.

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A grey dull day welcomed free practice, but things were better for qualifying. The main interest lay in the different capacity performance on the short Indy circuit.

Could the 1000cc bikes use the power, or would the more nimble 600's out-corner them?

The free session saw Kershaw and Clark nudge the Birchall brothers back, with John Holden/Lee Cain third on their 600, from Stevens/Charlwood similarly mounted.

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Sleaford sidecar racer Gary Horspole with stand in passenger Ashley Moore rode to a fine tenth and 15th place in their two races at Brands Hatch at the weekend in the first round of the 2018 British F1 Sidecar Championship to settle into ...place on ...points.

Horspole had a baptism of fire in free practice when he discovered the seating unit was out of place and his leg was being burnt. He pulled in to the pits to retire from the session and make adjustments prior to qualifying on Saturday.