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Round Two - Brands Hatch 14-16 June 2019

Kershaw/Clark and Ellis/Richardson take Brands by storm

 

On the first dry day since a week of torrential rain, it was refreshing to see all twenty-three outfits present circulating on a dry track in free practice.

Qualifying – The weather had steadily improved, with a stiff breeze shifting what remained of the potential for rain. A twenty minute session would be enough to determine who would take pole and lead the charge into Paddock Hill Bend.

Ben and Tom Birchall threw the gauntlet down on their first flying lap with a 1.34, immediately going below it next time around. Even at that, they were still well shy of their own lap record. Todd Ellis and Chaz Richardson closed in, as did Sam and Adam Christie, Kershaw/Clark and John Holden/Lee Cain on the Barnes/Silicone Engineering Kawasaki.

With seven minutes remaining, several top runners pitted. The result was a flier by Ricky Stevens and Ryan Charlwood putting the JG Speedfit/Quattro Plant Kawasaki on provisional pole. That was almost a perfect lap, but could it be beaten? The answer was a resounding yes, as the Birchall brothers reclaimed pole by one tenth of a second in the dying moments.

Race One – Late on Saturday afternoon the weather had changed, and intermittent rain had fallen. Whilst the track was damp, but not soaked, the race was declared wet, so there would be no stoppage. Would anyone be brave enough to chance slick tyres? In fact that was the unanimous choice. This would almost certainly test the speed of the JG Speedfit Quattro Plant Kawasaki of Ricky Stevens and Ryan Charlwood off the line. They were alongside the Yamaha of Ben and Tom Birchall, with Steve Kershaw/Stuart Clark tucked in behind them.

Over a reduced race distance of just six laps, the Birchall brothers shot into the lead from the lights and opened an immediate gap. Ricky Stevens and Ryan Charlwood went with them and were shortly passed by Kershaw/Clark, although the compliment was very quickly returned.

Then amazingly, Ricky and Ryan were in front and leading the Mitchells of Mansfield Yamaha. They had made a clean passing move, and were lapping faster than the World Champions, as indeed were Kershaw and Clark. We were then set up for a fantastic race before drama unfolded.

For one lap Ben and Tom were trailing, with the Molson/Express Tyres Yamaha of the reigning British Champions closing in. Into Clearways for the penultimate time, Ben Birchall tried to reclaim the lead,and torpedoed the leading JG Speedfit/Quattro Plant outfit. Both crews careered into the air-fence, with the drivers removed to hospital for checks and observation.

It was later confirmed that whilst both were knocked about and bruised, no serious injuries were found. This incident brought out the red flag with one lap remaining, and totally ruined what would have been a grandstand finish to a fine race. Victory was handed to the reigning champions.

Race One Result – 1/ Kershaw/Clark (Molson/Express Tyres Yamaha), 2/ Ellis/Richardson (Santander Salt Honda), 3/ Christie/Christie (CES Yamaha), 4/ Holland/Watson (JG Speedfit/Quattro Plant Kawasaki), 5/ Peach/Edwards (Life-safety Yamaha), 6/ Biggs/Schmitz (Taurus Tools Honda), 7/ Bryan/Hyde (CVR/GBM Honda), 8/ Gray/Pitt (Brian Gray Powerbiking Yamaha), 9/ Kirk/Smithies (MK Racing Yamaha), 10/ Cable/Masters (L&W Yamaha).

Race Two – Sunday dawned much more of a grey day, Weather conditions had deteriorated significantly in the morning, and showers were spasmodic. By the time the race formed up, there was a break in the weather. A stiff breeze had moved the cloud on, the earlier Superbike race had dried the track, and it was all systems go.

A reverse grid applied, so as tenth placed finishers in race one, Kevin Cable and Kyle Masters found themselves in pole position on the Cable Racing/L&W Contractors Yamaha. This team had a good start to the new 600cc season, and also sat in tenth place in the standings going into this race.

From the lights it was a blistering get-go for Brian Gray and Jason Pitt (Brian Gray Powerbiking Yamaha), who shot into the lead and opened a huge gap on lap one.

Pole men Kevin Cable and Kyle Masters fought tooth and nail on the opening lap to protect their place, coming under pressure from Ben Holland/Lee Watson, Rob Biggs/Jerome Schmitz and Gary Bryan/Phil Hyde.

All this scrapping for position allowed Gray/Pitt to gain an even bigger lead, and even when Todd Ellis and Ben Holland made their way past he was not about to give up. The new all-600 formula made for very close racing, and all the way down the field there were great battles.

Sam and Adam Christie (CES Yamaha) followed up their third in race one by moving into a strong position at the front behind Ellis/Richardson, now race leaders.

Kershaw and Clark, reigning champions fought hard, and actually had a strong challenge set, in trying to get past Brian Gray. Once through, they were on fast laps and finished within a second of the winners. So it was a Santander Salt one-two, Ben Holland and Lee Watson completed the podium for Quattro Kawasaki, with the Christie brothers in fourth. Chris Walker and Tom Christie had a couple of moments for Santander Salt/TAG Racing Yamaha but finished well in the points.

Race Two Results – 1/ Ellis/Richardson, 2/ Kershaw/Clark, 3/ Holland/Watson, 4/ Christie/Christie, 5/ Peach/Edwards, 6/ Gray/Pitt, 7/ Biggs/Schmitz, 8/ Walker/Christie, 9/ Bryan/Hyde, 10/ Bell/Anderson

Standings – Kershaw/Clark 65, Ellis/Richardson 54, Christie/Christie 42, Peach/Edwards 30, Biggs/Schmitz 30, Holland/Watson 29, Bryan/Hyde 26, Birchall/Birchall 25, Gray/Pitt 22, Cable/Masters 17

The next round comes from the Cadwell Sidecar Revival next weekend 22/23 June.

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

 

BSB / British Sidecar Championship Partners


Opening lap
Opening lap

Steve Kershaw and Stuart Clark
Race one winners: Steve Kershaw and Stuart Clark

Todd Ellis and Charlie Richardson
Race two winners: Todd Ellis and Charlie Richardson

Sam Christie and Adam Christie
Race one third place: Sam and Adam Christie

Podium
Podium

Podium
Podium


Photos copyright: Impact Images Photography


 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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