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.
Horsepower ruled however, with Steve Kershaw and Stuart Clark bringing the Santander Salt Kawasaki home ahead of Phil Bell/Stuart Ramsay with their Marin Motorsports Kawasaki. They were chased all the way by a trio of 600's in the hands of former champions Ricky Stevens and Ryan Charlwood, reigning Cup Champions Todd Ellis and Chaz Richardson, and an impressive Martin Kirk/Shelley Smithies.
Qualifying was again in blissful weather, giving the crews the Oulton Park circuit at its very best.
Track conditions were ideal, with surface temperature in the high thirties.
The twenty minute session gave the crews plenty of time to finalise settings and maybe slot in a new tyre to eke out the extra millisecond.
Phil Bell and Stuart Ramsay set the early running, as big-bike power appeared to rule, certainly along the start/finish straight and up over Hill-Top.
Steve Kershaw and Stuart Clark quickly got into the groove and posted a 1.44 on lap four, only to increase that speed to a 1.43.624 on lap nine.
That was to be the pole time, with the fastest of the 600's being Todd Ellis and Charlie Richardson.
Ricky Stevens and Ryan Charlwood sat fourth on their 600 Quattro Plant JG Speedfit Kawasaki, ahead of Rupert Archer/Tom Bryant on the Hannafin Adolf RS Suzuki. Gary Horspole and James Connell were sixth, with Martin Kirk/Shelley Smithies seventh, and third fastest Cup outfit.
A returning Rob Biggs, now also 600 mounted, was a respectable eighth quickest, partnered by Jeroen Schmitz on a CBR600 Honda.
The Race – Track temperature was running at over forty-five degrees by the time the race began, and a record crowd watched the sweltering action.
From the lights, Kershaw and Clarke made no mistake and rocketed into the lead followed by Phil Bell and Stuart Ramsay.
Slotting into third came Todd Ellis and Chaz Richardson (Santander Salt 600 Honda) fending off a spirited lunge by Gary Horspole and James Connell.
Fighting up from a poor start, after a bump-start before the warm-up lap, were Ricky Stevens and Ryan Charlwood. They were down in sixth on lap two, but then began their push through the field.
A great ride by Rupert Archer and Tom Bryant (Hannafin Adolf RS Suzuki) saw them battle hard to keep the 600's at bay, eventually mastering Ellis/Richardson and finishing in fourth place overall.
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Gary Horspole and Rob Biggs finished sixth and seventh, which gave them both very handy points, and marked Bigg's return to the series full-time.
The gap at the front was at one point twenty seconds, but then a stone became lodged in Kershaw's front disc, giving them all sorts of braking problems.
Still, he and Stuart Clark brought it home with a fastest lap of 1.43.344 and recorded an emotional first ever victory in the series.
Race Result – (full results in the Race Office on the forum here)
1/ Kershaw/Clarke (Molson/Express Tyres Service Kawasaki),
2/ Phil Bell/Stuart Ramsay (Marin Motorsports Kawasaki),
3/ Ricky Stevens/Ryan Charlwood (Quattro Plant JG Speedit Kawasaki),
4/ Rupert Archer/Tom Bryant (Hannafin Adolf RS Suzuki),
5/ Todd Ellis/Chaz Richardson (Santander Salt Honda),
6/ Gary Horspole/James Connell (Sleaford Quality Foods/Baker Plant Kawasaki),
7/ Rob Biggs/Jeroen Schmitz (Taurus Tools Honda),
8/ Martin Kirk/Shelley Smithies (MK Racing Yamaha)
Overall Standings –
Cup Points –
P. Founds 34,
A. Founds 33,