Round One - Oulton Park 4-6 May 2019
The long wait was over, a record entry assembled, an air of anticipation surrounded the entire paddock, and the much publicised new season was finally under way.
There could be no more fitting place to kick-start the 2019 championship chase, than the picturesque Oulton Park circuit, scene of many sidecar battles over six decades, with World Champions past and present having tackled the iconic parkland track.
Free practice provided a taste of things to come, with a string of colour and action all round the 2.7 mile track. The 600cc engines sang a uniform song as the crews familiarised themselves with new machinery, and dialled themselves in ahead of qualifying.
Although bitterly cold, the sun was out and the track dry for the first free session with a full twenty minutes track time.
Ben and Tom Birchall set the early pace ahead of John Holden/Lee Cain, but at the close, Lewis Blackstock and Paddy Rosney emerged fastest with their Yamaha. With John Holden second fastest at the flag, it was a Silicone/Barnes Racing double. Times needless to say, were conservative, as this was after all, the opening exploratory session.