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Kershaw and Clark take two at Snetterton from Bell/Ramsay

 

Qualifying - a beautifully sunny day had clouded over by the time the sidecars went for their grid positions. Track temperature was still very warm so there was plenty of grip. Series leaders Steve Kershaw and Stuart Clark had earlier taken the Molson Santander Salt Kawasaki to the fastest free practice time just inside the two minute barrier, against the lap record set by Tim and Tristan Reeves of 1.54.982. So, there was plenty of room for improvement in qualifying.

They actually came to within two seconds of that time, so clearly they were on the pace. Most impressive also were Todd Ellis and Charlie Richardson on their Honda LCR, as they managed to stay clear of Ricky Stevens and Ryan Charlwood on the Quattro Plant JG Speedfit Kawasaki. The former champions had spent a considerable amount of time in pit lane before they really got going.

Then came a trio of big engined outfits led by Phil Bell/Stuart Ramsay. Rupert Archer/Tom Bryant came next followed by Gary Horspole/James Connell.

It was not obvious the 1000cc outfits had any significant advantage other than Kershaw Clark's dominance. The Scots start from pole position with high hopes of increasing their series lead.

Race One - The wind had increased slightly under grey skies, but there was no rain, so you could say conditions were near perfect for the twelve lap race.

From pole position, Steve Kershaw and Stuart Clark made no mistake. The battle between the big engined bikes and their 600cc brothers was fascinating. From the lights Kershaw and Clarke rocketed into a lead from which they would never be relegated. The Molson Santander Salt Kawasaki was flawless and their margin at the flag was a massive sixteen seconds.

Behind them though, the battle for second place was the absolute story of the race. Phil Bell and Stuart Ramsay had the Marin Motorsport Kawasaki on full song to keep a pair of screaming 600's behind them.

Todd Ellis/Chaz Richardson and Ricky Stevens/Ryan Charlwood were at it hammer and tongs all race long. They passed and re-passed, they each moved ahead of Bell only to be sucked back on the straights by the big engine.

Behind them there was a spirited ride by Draper Racing's Simon Gilbert and Jack Tritton. This duo sadly were obliged to retire on lap nine with lack of fuel. But they had shown the speed needed to run well in the hunt.

Third place was decided in the final corner, with Todd Ellis diving inside the Quattro Plant JG Speedfit Kawasaki of Stevens to claim the place.

The absence of the Birchall Brothers, along with Peter and Alan Founds, handed Stevens and Charlwood valuable progress up the table as Kershaw extended his lead at the top. A great mid-field scrap between Gary Bryan/Phil Hyde and Gary Horspole/James Connell raged throughout. They both benefited from Simon Gilbert's retirement, eventually finishing fifth and sixth.

Similarly the next pair fighting were Dean Nicholls/Kenny Cole and Brian Gray/Jason Pitt (Brian Gray Powerbiking Yamaha). They were seventh and eight respectively.

Race One Result

1/ Kershaw/Clarke
2/ Bell/Ramsay
3/Ellis/Richardson
4/ Stevens/Charlwood
5/ Bryan/Hyde
6/ Horspole/Connell
7/ Nicholls/Cole
8/ Gray/Pitt
9/ Cable/Pawsey
10/ Jones/Child

Race Two - The reverse grid put Nev Jones and Rob Child on pole from Kev Cable/Guy Pawsey. In fairness, both these crews got away well and were both in the top ten four laps into the race.

Series leaders Steve Kershaw and Stuart Clark on their rapid Kawasaki were tenth on the grid alongside Phil Bell and Stuart Ramsay.

You can say what you like about the reverse grid rule, but it is popular with most of the riders, and provides great racing.

The first two laps were especially entertaining, and it was not long before TT heroes Gary Bryan and Phil Hyde took control at the front. They set about trying to clear off before Kershaw and Bell could get their acts together, but they were both charging through, along with Todd Ellis/Chaz Richardson on their 600. This latter pair then became involved in a race-long scrap with Ricky Stevens and Ryan Charlwood on the Quattro Plant JG Speedfit Kawasaki.

Kershaw/Clark, once ahead, never looked back, whilst Phil Bell did exactly the same once in second place. Big bikes certainly ruled on the straights.

Rupert Archer and Tom Bryant on their Hannafin Adolf RS Suzuki had a brilliant ride from row nine, charging through the pack to eventually be credited with seventh place. There was some confusion at the finish of the final lap when the red flag was shown briefly, and then withdrawn. There was smoke from one of the outfits, which was rubbing bodywork rather than oil, but given events of recent weeks, you can understand the marshal's attitude of “safety first”. Nonetheless, Archer and Bryant's progress was impressive. Lap four, and Bryan/Hyde were out with electrical issues, but it had been a brave effort in the light of the pain from Bryan's severed finger.

Gary Horspole and James Connell were also mixed up in a great fight with Simon Gilbert and Jack Tritton. Archer too was in this three-way scrap, so all in all there were good fights all down the field. Horspole got the verdict with an excellent fifth place.

Both the front row crews Cable and Jones were to retire on lap eight, with Andy Peach and Ken Edwards scoring their first points this year in eleventh with an ailing engine. Brian Gray and Jason Pitt on the Brian Gray Powerbiking 600 Yamaha scored more solid points from eighth to keep them third in the Cup standings.

Anyone who doubted the entertainment value of this series will need a rethink after what were two really good races.

Kershaw and Clark march on towards what could be their first premier title.

Race Two Result

1/ Kershaw/Clark (Molson/Santander Salt Kawasaki)
2/ Phil Bell/Stuart Ramsay (Marin Motorsport Kawasaki)
3/ Todd Ellis/Chaz Richardson (Santander Salt Honda)
4/ Ricky Stevens/Ryan Charlwood (Quattro Plant JG Speedfit Kawasai)
5/ Gary Horspole/James Connell (Sleaford Quality Foods/Baker Plant Kawasaki)
6/ Simon Gilbert/Jack Tritton (Draper Racing Yamaha)
7/ Rupert Archer/Tom Bryant (Hannafin Adolf RS Suzuki)
8/ Brian Gray/Jason Pitt (Brian Gray Powerbiking Yamaha)
9/ Dean Nicholls/Kenny Cole (Lick Racing Kawasaki)
10/ Matt MacLaurin/Ady Hope (Blue Group Yamaha)

Overall Standings

Kershaw/Clark 111
2/ Bell/Ramsay 70
3/ Ellis/Richardson 66
Stevens/Charlwood 50, Archer/Bryant 38, Horspole/Connell 38, Gray/Pitt 30, Bryan/Hyde 29
A. Founds/Christie 28
P. Founds/Walmsley 28

Cup Points

Ellis 102
Stevens 70
Gray 55
Kirk 44
Biggs 38
P. Founds 34
A. Founds 33

 

Media Matters - Barry Nutley - barry.nutley@btinternet.com

 

 

BSB / British Sidecar Championship Partners

Steve Kershaw and Stuart Clark
Steve Kershaw and Stuart Clark


Phil Bell and Stuart Ramsay
Phil Bell and Stuart Ramsay


Nev Jones and Rob Child
Nev Jones and Rob Child


Ian guy and Jed Pilmoor-Brady
Ian Guy and Jed Pilmoor-Brady


Andy Peach and Ken Edwards
Andy Peach and Ken Edwards


Brian Gray and Jason Pitt
Brian Gray and Jason Pitt


Gary Bryan and Phil Hyde
Gary Bryan and Phil Hyde


Simon Gilbert and Jack Tritton
Simon Gilbert and Jack Tritton


Martin Kirk and Shelley Smithies
Martin Kirk and Shelley Smithies


Phil Bell
Phil Bell

 

Photos copyright: Impact Images Photography

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