British F1: Damp Cadwell Park sees Birchall brothers increase lead
Despite adverse weather, the second visit to Lincolnshire in two weeks delivered great racing in front of by far the biggest crown in almost two years. A clash with the FIM World Championship in Croatia kept numbers low, but every single team on the grid meant business in efforts to catch the unstoppable Ben and Tom Birchall. Scott Lawrie had completely rebuilt his outfit following his big crash two weeks ago.
Qualifying – There was no mistaking who would be running at the front, as Ben/Tom Birchall fired a missile to the rest of the pack with a 1.31.310. This officially established them as the fastest-ever three-wheeled lap of the Cadwell Park circuit. Conditions were perfect, with sun out and a very light breeze prevailing.
Lewis Blackstock and Paddy Rosney proved that like the Birchalls, life together for many seasons pays dividends, and they ran second fastest, albeit two seconds adrift of the pole time.
Ron Biggs and Jeroen Schmitz brought the Santander Salt Yamaha to third, enforcing their aspirations for a podium in the races.
John Holden/Jason Pitt escaped the clutches of his John’s son George, to lead Ben Holland/Tom Christie across the line. These four or five outfits behind the polesitters were likely to enjoy close racing.
Race One – Spots of rain were in the air as the lights went out, with Ben and Tom Birchall leading the charge up the hill from Lewis Blackstock and Paddy Rosney.
This was no surprise, as they had been virtually unbeaten all season on their Haith Honda.
Rob Biggs and Jeroen Schmitz slotted into third and with them went Ben Holland/Tom Christie and John Holden/Jason Pitt. This scrap for the final podium place became the highlight of the race, and John Holden/Jason Pitt (Silicone/Barnes Racing Adolf RS) giving Rob Biggs/Jeroen Schmitz a hard time on the Santander Salt Yamaha.
Out on track for the first time was the new Ryde F1 chassis ridden by Chris Wright and Paul Bailey. They are the current Bemsee Club championship leaders with a huge degree of experience. The plan is for the new chassis to find its way onto the grid in the hands of an established Molson group team for further evaluation, with Andy Peach/Ken Edwards earmarked for that role.
Phil Bell is another driver involved in using the new chassis. Using his familiar LCR, he and Jimmy Connell went well, finishing in seventh place behind hard charging Scott Lawrie/Shelley Smithies.
George Holden’s passenger Oscar Lawrence was plagued with a stomach bug over the weekend, so they were below their usual standard. Ben and Tom Birchall though, made it yet another victory, with Lewis Blackstock/Paddy Rosney following them home. The gap at the flag almost seven seconds.
1/ Ben/Tom Birchall (Haith Honda)
2/ Lewis Blackstock/Paddy Rosney (DHR Express Tyres Yamaha)
3/ Rob Biggs/Jeroen Schmitz (Santander Salt Yamaha)
4/ John Holden/Jason Pitt (Barnes/Silicone Yamaha)
5/ Ben Holland/Tom Christie (JH Kawasaki)
6/ Scott Lawrie/Shelley Smithies (SLR Suzuki)
7/ Phil Bell/Jimmy Connell (Marin Motorsport Yamaha)
8/ Rupert Archer/Phil Hyde (Hannafin Adolf RS Yamaha)
9/ George Holden/Oscar Lawrence (Holden racing Suzuki)
10/ Andy Peach/Ken Edwards (Lifesafety Yamaha)
Race Two – this race was all about tyres, with a drying track ahead of the ten-lap race. The Birchall boys opted for intermediate front and sidecar, with what appeared to be a slick rear. At the end of the race, it was hard to determine what they were, because the degradation was so high.
Nonetheless, similarly shod Blackstock and Rosney chased them all the way in this race, and it became a two-horse affair at the front as lap after lap the red Yamaha shadowed the Haith Honda.
Behind them, the Ben Holland/John Holden battle raged for the entire ten lap, with the Kawasaki of Holland eventually completing the podium. Ben is enjoying his racing again, and it showed as he and Tom Christie moved third in the standings.
Peach/Edwards had a much better outing this time claiming eighth behind George Holden and Phil Bell, with Scott Lawrie/Shelley Smithies, despite a scary moment exiting the Hairpin, claiming a fine fifth. This has been a good, consistent year for the Scot and his lady passenger.
At the flag, Blackstock/Rosney were less that one second behind the Birchall Honda, with the gap having been less in the closing stages. Ben Birchall freely admitted it was a close race, and clearly, the Blackstock/Rosney duo are in the
The Ryde F1 paring of Wright/Bailey had a hairy episode at the foot of the mountain when the driver’s chest pad became detached and jammed the steering.
He managed to throw it clear, so all was well, and they finished twelfth.
Championship standings –
J Holden 116
G Holden 74
The next round comes from Snetterton September 3-5th.
Photo credits: Jenny “Triker” Wells