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,
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,
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