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Round Six - Thruxton 2-4 August

Kershaw/Clark and Ellis/Richardson world-class at Thruxton

 

The ultra-fast Thruxton circuit with its endless right-hand bends and undulating surface is a challenge for the best of them, and this weekend was no exception. Three races on this track, albeit slightly shorter than normal race length, were always going to be a test.

The weather was predicted to be fine and sunny all weekend, and a massive crowd was already in place on Thursday evening, with the camp-site overspill areas already in use. Free practice gave the crews the chance to re-acquaint themselves with the rigours of Thruxton. Local specialists Ricky Stevens and Ryan Charlwood took the JG Speedfit/Quattro Plant Kawasaki at near-lap record pace, indicating there would be more to come from them. Other teams looking good included Todd Ellis/Chaz Richardson, Blackstock/Rosney, Kershaw/Clark, and the Birchall Brothers (lap record holders).

Qualifying – In very warm weather conditions, the pace was fierce. The Birchall brothers (Mitchells of Mansfield Yamaha) went sub-lap record speed on their third lap, as they formed a convoy involving Stevens/Charlwood, Kershaw/Clark and Ellis/Richardson. If this session was anything to go by, the three races were destined to be closely fought affairs. That indeed proved to be the case.

The Barnes/Silicone Racing outfits of Blackstock/Rosney and Holden/Cain were the next to show strongly, although with six minutes remaining, it certainly looked as if Ben and Tom Birchall had done enough.

Newcomers Tommy Philp and Johnny Allum astonished the paddock as they posted seventh fastest on the Brian Gray Powerbiking Yamaha, only to be relegated one lap later by Rob Biggs and Jeroen Schmitz (Taurus Tools Honda).

It was not good news for John Holden and Lee Cain however. Despite posting sixth fastest time on the SBR Kawasaki, a blown engine and no spare meant their weekend was over. They loaded up and headed North.

Grid – 1/ Birchall/Birchall, 2/ Kershaw/Clark, 3/ Stevens/Charlwood, 4/ Blackstock/Rosney, 5/ Ellis/Richardson, 6/ Holden/Cain, 7/ Biggs/Schmitz, 8/ Philp/Allum, 9/Walker/Hawes, 10/ Bryan/Hyde.

Race one

Cloud cover eased the temperature for the opening eight lap encounter.

From pole position Ben and Tom Birchall shot into the lead. They were not alone however, as a very determined Lewis Blackstock/Paddy Rosney went with them, as did the Molson/Express Tyres reigning champions Steve Kershaw and Stuart Clark, with the JG Speedfit/Quattro Plant Kawasaki of Ricky Stevens/Ryan Charlwood. These four crews were a bit ahead of series leaders Todd Ellis/Chaz Richardson who sat fifth with the Santander Salt Honda. They were to end up a comfortable fourth after Blackstock/Rosney went out on lap five with a blown engine. This was not before they had made a serious bid for the lead on the Birchall Brothers, as the entire top four closed up.

Through to second place went Kershaw/Clark at near lap-record pace, and one lap later took the lead on the inside of the blindingly fast Church Bend. Also coming, and very much in a hurry were Stevens and Charlwood, who set a new lap record on the penultimate lap, and moved past the Mitchells of Mansfield Yamaha of Ben and Tom on the final tour. The Quattro Plant pair were back in the groove and all weekend showed the form which gave them two titles.

Kershaw and Clark celebrated their victory, reducing Ellis's margin slightly at the top in doing so. The chasing pack was headed by fifth placed Chris Walker and Ashley Hawes (TAG Racing Yamaha) who had a race-long battle with Gary Bryan/Phil Hyde and Rob Biggs/Jeroen Schmitz, with another scrap further back involving Bryan Gray/Jason Pitt and Andy Peach/Ken Edwards. Biggs got the verdict over Bryan, and almost nailed “The Stalker” on the run to the flag.

Race One Result – 1/ Kershaw/Clark (Molson/Express Tyres Yamaha), 2/ Ricky Stevens/Ryan Charlwood (JG Speedfit/Quattro Plant Kawasaki), 3/ Ben/Tom Birchall (Mitchells of Mansfield Yamaha), 4/ Todd Ellis/Chaz Richardson (Santander Salt Honda), 5/ Chris Walker/Ashley Hawes (TAG Racing Yamaha), 6/ Rob Biggs/Jeroen Schmitz (Taurus Tools Honda), 7/ Gary Bryan/Phil Hyde (GBR Honda), 8/ Brian Gray/Jason Pitt (Brian Gray Powerbiking Yamaha), 9/ Andy Peach/Ken Edwards (Lifesafety Yamaha), 10/ Gary Horspole/James Connell (Sleaford Foods/Baker Plant Yamaha)

Race Two – A variety of mechanical issues had crews working hard between the two races to prepare for the reverse grid second outing. From the lights Gary Bryan and Phil Hyde made a fantastic start to muscle through and lead into the first turn. Their lead was short-lived however, because Todd Ellis/Chaz Richardson, from row four, shot through to lead at the end of lap one.

The Birchall Brothers made a good start too and behind them Kershaw/Clark and Walker Hawes were fighting hard. On lap three, Anthony Hildidge parted company with his father's outfit, and on his twenty-second birthday, was sufficiently knocked about to bring out the red flag. He suffered a badly broken ankle, which was not the ideal birthday present.

The restart was over five laps with the original grid positions, and amazingly it was a carbon copy of the first effort. Bryan/Hyde led, but Ellis/Richardson were in front before the field was though the complex. Kershaw/Clark were faster through the pack this time and sat third, with Ben and Tom Birchall fourth and Stevens Charlwood fifth. At the front it was great racing, with Kershaw going ahead on lap three, as Ben Birchall set yet another lap record.

Todd Ellis was not phased, and on the penultimate lap dived underneath his team-mate to go to the front. There he stayed, despite a frantic last lap challenge from Kershaw/Clark. Ben and Tom Birchall were once again third, with very little between the top three. Further back, Chris Walker/Ashley Hawes held sixth until a fighting last lap performance from Ben Holland/Lee Watson (JG Speedfit/Quattro Plant Kawasaki) claimed that place from the back row, pushing Walker back to seventh.

Race Two Results – 1/ Ellis/Richardson, 2/ Kershaw/Clark, 3/ Birchall/Birchall, 4/ Stevens/Charlwood, 5/ Bryan/Hyde, 6/ Holland/Watson, 7/ Walker/Hawes, 8/ Gray/Pitt, 9/ Biggs/Schmitz, 10/ Gilbert/Pilmoor-Brady

Race Three – Track conditions were perfect ahead of the final race, with every chance the lap record time could dip even lower. The sun was out, with both ambient and tarmac temperature very warm.

One win apiece for Ellis and Kershaw, the Birchall Brothers hungry to make amends, this all made the prospect of an epic race very appetising. It did not disappoint. Rob Biggs and Jeroen Schmitz hit the front in real style, with the traffic behind shuffling into place.

Ben and Tom Birchall were very clear about what they had to do, and very quickly muscled their way into contention at the front. They knew they had to get the pack between themselves and the Santander Salt/Molson outfits, and as quickly as possible. Kershaw/Clark had a better start this time and were soon at the sharp end. Ricky Stevens/Ryan Charlwood were less fortunate, having first to dispense with a very rapid Ben Holland/Lee Watson. Ellis was coming too, whilst right at the front, Rob Biggs was doing a fantastic job, eventually to be relegated by Ben and Tom Birchall. The Mansfield based brothers showed their class, with lurid controlled slides and amazing corner speed, but the Molson Express was coming.

Once more, Steve Kershaw picked his moment, and having shown his nose at the chicane a couple of times, finally moved ahead of Birchall and stretched a full second by the flag. Team-mates Ellis and Richardson managed to get by a fighting Stevens/Charlwood to complete the podium.

Stevens and Charlwood were now two seconds adrift in fourth, with a stunning fifth and an excellent performance by Biggs and Schmitz easily the “best of the rest”. This was a convincing demonstration of world-class sidecar racing underlining the quality of the British series. There is no doubt, on the face of this evidence, that the Molson Group Championship is the best three-wheeled action on the planet.

Race Three Results – 1/ Kershaw/Clark, 2/ Birchall/Birchall, 3/ Ellis/Richardson, 4/ Stevens/Charlwood, 5/ Biggs/Schmitz, 6/ Walker/Hawes, 7/ Bryan/Hyde, 8/ Gray/Pitt, 9/ Gilbert/Pilmoor-Brady, 10/ Peach/Edwards.

Standings – Ellis 274, Kershaw 216, Bryan 120, Biggs 112, Blackstock 103, Stevens 98, Gray 96, Holden 92, Walker 90, Birchall 77, Kirk 74, Holland 68

The next round comes from Cadwell Park 16-18 August

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

 

BSB / British Sidecar Championship Partners


Race action

Martin Kirk and Shelley Smithies, MK Racing heads a group on the opening lap

Race Winner, Todd Ellis and Charlie Richardson, Market Rasen, Santander Salt leads Steve Kershaw and Stuart Clark, Lauder, Molson & Express Tyre Service

Ricky Stevens and Ryan Charlwood celebrate on the podium

(l to r) Steve Kershaw and Stuart Clark, Lauder, Molson & Express Tyre Service, Todd Ellis and Charlie Richardson, Market Rasen, Santander Salt and Ricky Stevens and Ryan Charlwood, Havant, Quattro Plant JG Speedfit Kawasaki

Ricky Stevens, Havant, Quattro Plant JG Speedfit Kawasaki

(l to r) Steve Kershaw and Stuart Clark, Molson & Express Tyre Service (2nd), winners Todd Ellis and Charlie Richardson, Santander Salt and 3rd place Ricky Stevens and Ryan Charlwood, Quattro Plant JG Speedfit Kawasaki

Steve Kershaw and Stuart Clark, Lauder, Molson & Express Tyre Service (2nd), winners Todd Ellis and Charlie Richardson, Market Rasen, Santander Salt and 3rd place Ricky Stevens and Ryan Charlwood, Havant, Quattro Plant JG Speedfit Kawasaki

Steve Kershaw and Stuart Clark, Lauder, Molson & Express Tyre Service (2nd), winners Todd Ellis and Charlie Richardson, Market Rasen, Santander Salt and 3rd place Ricky Stevens and Ryan Charlwood, Havant, Quattro Plant JG Speedfit Kawasaki

Steve Kershaw and Stuart Clark, Lauder, Molson & Express Tyre Service (2nd), winners Todd Ellis and Charlie Richardson, Market Rasen, Santander Salt and 3rd place Ricky Stevens and Ryan Charlwood, Havant, Quattro Plant JG Speedfit Kawasaki

Steve Kershaw and Stuart Clark, Lauder, Molson & Express Tyre Service (2nd), winners Todd Ellis and Charlie Richardson, Market Rasen, Santander Salt and 3rd place Ricky Stevens and Ryan Charlwood, Havant, Quattro Plant JG Speedfit Kawasaki

Steve Kershaw and Stuart Clark, Lauder, Molson & Express Tyre Service (2nd), winners Todd Ellis and Charlie Richardson, Market Rasen, Santander Salt and 3rd place Ricky Stevens and Ryan Charlwood, Havant, Quattro Plant JG Speedfit Kawasaki


Photos copyright: Impact Images Photography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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