British F1: Cadwell Park delivers great opener as Kershaw/Charlwood maximise
The Cadwell Park circuit hosted a Bemsee Club meeting with the opening British F1 Sidecar round as a central feature. Friday was an open test day, and everyone took advantage of the opportunity to get back in the groove.
Everyone that is, except Ricky Stevens and Ben Holland, who’s high profile official Kawasaki team ran into financial difficulties in the final week leading up. They were not on the grid, and it is unsure as to what the future holds for the two crews.
Another team in trouble were Chris Walker and Ashley Hawes who blew their one and only TAG Racing Yamaha engine in the early session. They took no further part in events.
Qualifying saw strong performances from the Santander Salt outfits of current and former Champions Todd Ellis/Charlie Richardson and Steve Kershaw/Ryan Charlwood.
The Christie brothers Sam and Adam, along with Lewis Blackstock/Paddy Rosney also signalled their intention to have a good weekend.
Ben and Tom Birchall were out on their TT short outfit but with a standard tune engine, featuring many mods and innovations. One of these was a countershaft within the swinging arm pivot, enabling constant chain tension of the final drive chain, with a short primary chain carrying the drive to the countershaft.
Qualifying resulted in Kershaw and Ellis sharing the front row, with Blackstock/Rosney and the Christie Brothers making up row two. Veteran John Holden lined up alongside “new kid on the block” Tommy Philp with Tom Bryant in the hot seat.
In extremely hot conditions the pack streaked away and up the hill. Blackstock and Rosney got a flier and were quickly immersed in a scrap with the pole men Kershaw/Charlwood.
They stole a march and took the lead, with Ellis then making a play on Kershaw. Ellis and Richardson stuck to the task, and using their Cadwell knowledge to the full, passed Kershaw before taking the lead from Blackstock/Rosney. They looked on target for victory, but it was not to be.
Each of these three crews had their turn at the front, and were circulating in close formation, with Kershaw eventually opening a good lead.
The battle then raged for the remainder of the race between Blackstock and Ellis, with the reigning champions holding onto the runner-up spot by a couple of seconds at the flag.
Sam and Adam Christie were immaculate throughout in fourth, with a battling John Holden retiring at two thirds distance from fifth.
This promoted Ben and Tom Birchall who were happy with their new F2 Honda LCR. The bike had bedded in nicely to reward them with a strong finish.
Phil Bell and Justin Sharpe had an excellent race scoring valuable points. They were to come home in sixth place and a good start to the season.
Not so lucky, with yet another Cadwell dramatic moment, were Martin Kirk and Shelley Smithies. They launched towards the sky ahead of Phil Bell emerging shocked and surprised, albeit with a damaged fairing.
So that’s how they finished, Kershaw’s debut victory with Ryan Charlwood, team-mates Ellis and Richardson in second, with the SBR pairing of Blackstock and Rosney completing the podium.
1/ Kershaw/Charlwood (Santander Salt/Quattro Yamaha)
2/ Ellis/Richardson (Santander Salt Honda)
3/ Blackstock/Rosney (SBR Yamaha)
4/ Christie/Christie ( CES Yamaha)
5/ Birchall/Birchall (Honda LCR)
6/ Bell/Sharpe (Marin Motorsport Yamaha)
7/ Crawford/Hardie (ARC Suzuki)
8/ Biggs/Schmitz (Express Tyres Yamaha)
9/ Cable/Masters (L&W Yamaha)
10/ Clarke/Anderson (City Lifting Windle)
An astonishing drop in temperature and cold, damp track conditions greeted the early birds on Sunday. By the time the race left the line the track was dry, and Kershaw made no mistake from the line this time. He shot away and was never headed despite Todd Ellis’s best efforts later in the race.
Lewis Blackstock and Paddy Rosney once again jumped from third on the grid into second place as they overtook Ellis and Richardson on the run up to Coppice.
John Holden and Jake Lowther were solid in fourth throughout, as Ben and Tom Birchall sat comfortably fifth before pitting to discuss some mechanical issue.Their weekend had been a valuable test session promising much more to come.
Sam and Adam Christie now were fifth and set about catching John Holden in determined fashion. This battle went all the way to the lights, with Holden making up for his race one retirement claiming fourth place.
A good second outing by Tommy Philp and Tom Bryant saw them finish behind the Christies. This went some way towards compensating them for a race one zero score.
So, it was a repeat one-two for the Santander Salt team-mates, with Kershaw heading home to the borders with maximum points.
Blackstock and Rosney matched their first race performance getting the SBR team off to a strong start.
Round Two comes from British Superbikes Snetterton 21-23 August.