British F1: Dramatic end to season at Brands with Birchalls already champions

British F1: Dramatic end to season at Brands with Birchalls already champions

British F1: Dramatic end to season at Brands with Birchalls already champions

Race 2

The late cancellation of the FIM World Championship entry at Brands Hatch freed up some top names to race alongside the Molson regulars as wild cards. Reigning British Champion Steve Kershaw with Ryan Charlwood made an appearance on that basis.

Other top teams had registered for both series, so were eligible to score points. Among those crews were Todd Ellis/Emmanuelle Clement, currently lying second in the world rankings. With double points on offer in this final round, they had a good opportunity to make the Birchall Brother’s lead look less dominant, although they too would be going for glory. Also on the race card were Kevin Cable and Kyle Masters, having enjoyed their foreign trips, now back to score British points. Also falling into this category were Ellis’s Santander Salt teammates Rob Biggs and Jeroen Schmitz.

Qualifying
There was a distinct chill in the air late on Friday afternoon ahead of this one and only twenty-five-minute session. The Birchall Brothers had moved within half a second of lap record pace in free practice, narrowly ahead of Ellis/Clement.

After a quick opening lap by Kershaw/Charlwood, the Birchall brothers banged in a good time to go top. An immediate response by Ellis/Clement saw a pattern begin to unfold of two teams at the top of their game, vying for pole position. Lewis Blackstock/Paddy Rosney were right in the mix with the top two, reflecting their runner-up spot in the standings.

Suddenly, with four laps done, the Birchalls were below lap-record pace, with the Haith Honda flying. Their time allowed them to sit out the session, with Todd Ellis reeling off lap after lap to come within nine-tenths of what was a special lap. Blackstock/Rosney were third from Kershaw/Charlwood and Scott Lawrie/Shelley Smithies.

Grid
1/ Birchall/Birchall
2/ Ellis/Clement
3/ Blackstock/Rosney
4/ Kershaw/Charlwood
5/ Lawrie/Smithies
6/ Biggs/Schmitz
7/ Holden/Pitt
8/ Crawford/Hardie

Race 2

Race One
There was no stopping Ben and Tom Birchall in this one for the early laps. Lewis Blackstock/Paddy Rosney, Todd Ellis/Emmanuelle Clement and Steve Kershaw/Ryan Charlwood were magnificent in pursuit, hardly split throughout the race. The Haith Honda of the Birchalls was over two seconds clear within three laps and going away. They set a new lap record on lap three and then in lap five, they were out with a mechanical problem which turned out to be a split exhaust.

This left a fantastic three-way battle between three of the best crews in Britain. Steve Kershaw was lapping close to lap-record pace, and he was not about to give up the lead. Toss Ellis/Emmanuelle Clement were climbing all over the back of the number twenty-nine outfit, but that was all they could do. Their Yamaha was running rich, so not at its best. Blackstock/Rosney were still in touch, just half a second off the lead. Behind them a great race between Scott Lawrie/Shelley Smithies and Rob Biggs/Jeroen Schmitz saw both outfits touch and spit simultaneously but re-joined to finish fourth and fifth.

Kershaw/Charlwood were back on top of the podium, with Ellis earning a good bag of points for the championship table.

Result
1/ Kershaw/Charlwood
2/ Ellis/Clement
3/ Blackstock/Rosney
4/ Lawrie/Smithies
5/ Biggs/Schmitz
6/ J.Holden/Pitt
7/ Crawford/Hardie
8/ Currie/Sharpe
9/ Bell/Connell
10/ Robinson/Fairhurst.

Race 1

Race Two
This outing was fraught with incidents but there was plenty of action. With a reverse grid, and Ben/Tom Birchall starting from the back, it was very busy indeed with outfits swarming all over each other to make up places.

The first lap was hectic, but Ellis/Clement made it through the pack very well in pursuit of the early leaders. Simon Robinson/Mick Fairhurst made the most of pole position and proved difficult to pass and kept a good pace going. Further down the order, a massive coming together between John Holden/Jason Pitt and Lewis Blackstock/Paddy Rosney brought out first the safety car, and shortly after, a red flag brought proceedings to a halt. With only two laps completed, a new re-run over five laps, using the original grid was declared.

This was another frantic start, and Simon Robinson/Mick Fairhurst gave another good account of themselves, as did Craig Currie/Justin Sharpe, but a great move by Todd Ellis saw him launch the Santander Salt Yamaha to the fore.

Kershaw/Charlwood and Lee Crawford/Scott Hardie went with them, as the Birchall Brothers made headway through the pack fighting to fifth on lap three.

Scott Lawrie/Shelley Smithies did not complete a lap, Phil Bell/Jimmy Connell retired the Marin Motorsport Yamaha on lap two, and then on lap four, another huge crash at Surtees took out Rupert Archer/Phil Hyde and Kevin Cable/Kyle Masters. Another red flag signalled a result at the conclusion of lap three.

No fewer than four of the battered teams were treated in the Medical Centre, with two members taken to hospital for further assessment.

At the time of going to press, no further details were available, but all at RKB-F1 wish the wounded parties well for a speedy recovery.

Race 2 podium

Result
1/ Todd Ellis/Emmanuelle Clement (Santander Salt Yamaha)
2/ Steve Kershaw/Ryan Charlwood (Kershaw Racing Yamaha)
3/ Lee Crawford/Scott Hardie (ARC Kawasaki)
4/ Simon Robinson/Mick Fairhurst (24seven Couriers Yamaha)
5/ Ben/Tom Birchall (Haith Honda)
6/ Rob Biggs/Jeroen Schmitz (Santander Salt Yamaha)
7/ Craig Currie/Justin Sharpe (Birchall Yamaha)
8/ Brian Gray/Sarah Stokoe (Yamaha)

Final Standings
Birchall 340
Blackstock 271
J.Holden 189
Ellis 140
Holland 135
Biggs 126
Lawrie 122
Archer 119
Peach 108
Bell 105

Photo credits: Jenny “Triker” Wells

British F1: Birchalls put the title out of reach at Donington Park

British F1: Birchalls put the title out of reach at Donington Park

British F1: Birchalls put the title out of reach at Donington Park

Race 1 - Lap 1

A distinctly winter feel greeted the crews at Donington with heavy rain and wind on Friday. Saturday was another tricky day with the organisers moving the schedule to fit the weather which was predicted to deteriorate as the day unfolded.

Free practice saw a good performance by John Holden, with the Birchall brothers distinctly faster in the dry. They expressed concern that Avon had not brought enough of the new wet radial rear tyre with them. So, they would be obliged to use the older cross-ply version which did not perform as well.

Qualifying

Ben and Tom Birchall did indeed claim pole, with Lewis Blackstock/Paddy Rosney getting to within half a second of them. John Holden/Jason Pitt got third, with Ben Holland/Tom Christie making fourth, only to crash out badly. Tom Christie suffered a broken arm, and the bike was badly bent. Holland’s weekend and season are therefore over. Newly crowned F2 Champions Lee Crawford/Scott Hardie on their new Kawasaki long LCR did amazingly well fifth fastest just ahead of Pete Founds/Jevan Walmsley on the short F2. Sixteen crews qualified, but due to Holland’s crash, fifteen would line up.

Race One

In adverse weather conditions, a reduced distance of eight laps was implemented by race control, with two warm-up laps to familiarise the crews with a very wet track. Drama unfolded on the opening of those two laps when Ben Birchall appeared to collide with the back of Lee Crawford’s outfit on the approach to the Foggy Esses. Birchall took to the grass with sidecar wheel arch damage and Crawford retired in pit lane with a rear wheel puncture. Neither crew started, leaving the field open for others to gain big points. Slippery conditions were certainly a factor in the incident.

Lewis Blackstock was not about to pass up that chance and led from start to finish. They were to open a sixteen second margin from the chasing pack, and that was where the interest lay. If John Holden/Jason Pitt thought they would have an easy ride, nothing could be further from the truth. Newcomer Craig Currie, with Justin Sharpe alongside, settled into second place and looked strong throughout. They had a battle from mid-race distance with John Holden who also had Andy Peach/Ken Edwards to contend with. The Lifesafety Yamaha was right up there with Peach obviously relishing the conditions. He had a moment in the closing stages which dropped him into the clutches of Phil Bell/Jimmy Connell but recovered towards the end of the race to get back on terms with Holden, Currie, and Pete Founds/Jevan Walmsley on their F2 short LCR.

There were good scraps all down the field with veteran Brian Gray/Sarah Stokoe in the thick of it early on. Phil Bell claimed sixth ahead of a great fight involving Craig Clarke, Simon Robinson and new kid on the block, Lewis Nicol.

The young Scot, with his passenger Rhys Gibbons survived a big practice crash and extensive repair work to bring it home tenth. They were to start race two nervously from pole position.

Race 1 Peach & Edwards

Result

1/ Lewis Blackstock/Paddy Rosney (DHR/Express Tyres Services Yamaha)
2/ Craig Currie/Justin Sharpe (Birchall Racing Yamaha)
3/ John Holden/Jason Pitt (Barnes/Silicone Adolf RS)
4/ Pete Founds/Jevan Walmsley (Team Founds Yamaha)
5/ Andy Peach/Ken Edwards (Lifesafety Yamaha)
6/ Phil Bell/Jimmy Connell (Marin Motorsport Yamaha)
7/ Conrad Harrison/Mark Middleton (Bellas Honda)
8/ Craig Clarke/Pete Ensor (Centurion Packaging LCR Honda)
9/ Simon Robinson/Mick Fairhurst (24 Seven Courier Service Yamaha)
10/ Lewis Nicol/Rhys Gibbons (Lewis Nicol LCR Yamaha)

Race Two

A huge crash on the warm-up lap involved Brian Ilaria/Matty Simms clipping the kerb at Starkeys and rolling the outfit in dramatic fashion. The fairing was destroyed and parted company with the bike as Ilaria struggled to get out of it. They both quickly jumped to their feet, but the race was over for them before they got to the line.

As normal, the reverse grid gave great action with Blackstock charging through the pack followed by Ben and Tom Birchall. This time the weather was kind, and the track was dry. Simon Robinson/Mick Fairhurst were very strong at the front, holding second place for the early laps. Phil Bell spun out and into the gravel on lap two, with John Holden/Jason Pitt having another good ride working through the pack.

Pete Founds/Jevan Walmsley made their way to fifth and were enjoying a great tussle with Holden, as Craig Currie/Justin Sharp followed up their earlier podium with a great ride to sixth place.

Meanwhile, the Birchalls had forced through to lead and opened up a huge gap back to Blackstock/Rosney, with Simon Robinson having the ride of his life on the new long bike. He was to keep John Holden at bay to claim the final podium spot.

Further down the order there was a race-long entertaining battle between evergreen Craig Clarke/Peter Ensor, TT winner Conrad Harrison/Mark Middleton and the new youngsters Lewis Nicol/Rhys Gibbons.

The twenty-year-old Scot with his nineteen-year-old passenger, nephew of Pete Founds, were mixing it in fast company and very much holding their own. But it could have been a very different story when Harrison got it sideways onto the grass, Clarke jabbed the brakes and skipped sideways himself causing Nicol to think quickly and positively. His reward was eighth place behind Andy Peach and Ken Edwards rounding out a good weekend for the Lifesafety squad. Other crews in trouble were Rupert Archer/Phil Hyde in the gravel on lap six, and Lee Crawford/Scott Hardie completing a miserable weekend with another DNF on the final lap.

Birchall’s victory gave them the Molson Group Championship title, a new lap record, and a bonus award of the Tom Wheatcroft Trophy presented by the Donington Supporters Club.

Birchalls taking 1st place

Result

1/ Ben/Tom Birchall (Champions) Haith Honda
2/ Lewis Blackstock/Paddy Rosney
3/ Simon Robinson/Mick Fairhurst
4/ John Holden/Jason Pitt
5/ Pete Founds Jevan Walmsley
6/ Craig Currie/Justin Sharpe
7/ Andy Peach/Ken Edwards
8/ Lewis Nicol/Rhys Gibbons
9/ Craig Clarke/Peter Ensor
10/ Conrad Harrison/ Mark Middleton
11/ Brian Gray/Sarah Stokoe

Championship standings

Birchall 340
Blackstock 231
J. Holden 167
Holland 135
Archer 105
Peach 102
Biggs 100
Ellis 90
Lawrie 90
Bell 87,
G. Holden 87
Christie 76
Clarke 70
Philp 69
Robinson 69
Currie 60

The final round comes from Brands Hatch 15-17 October with double points on offer.

Photo credits: Jenny “Triker” Wells

British F1: Birchall brothers flying high to Donington Park 1-3rd October

British F1: Birchall brothers flying high to Donington Park 1-3rd October

British F1: Birchall brothers flying high to Donington Park 1-3rd October

Ben & Tom Birchall Race 2

With eleven victories from thirteen outings Ben and Tom Birchall (Haith Honda) head for Donington Park on target for the championship. But for the double points on offer in the Brands Hatch finale, they would be home and dry anyway, However, Lewis Blackstock and Paddy Rosney still have a mathematical chance of stealing the title. Their record of podiums is equally impressive, having only missed out twice.

A clash with the FIM World Championship in Oschersleben sees four of the top runners absent, including the only crew to beat the Birchalls this year, Todd Ellis/Emmanuelle Clement (Santander Salt Yamaha). That leaves the door wide open for others to capitalise at Donington, with Blackstock/Rosney at the front of the queue. They have been edging ever closer on the DHR/Express Tyre Service Yamaha LCR.

A real battle is shaping up for third place between John Holden/Jason Pitt (Barnes/Silicone Yamaha) and Ben Holland/Tom Christie (Team JH Racing Kawasaki). Just three points split these two crews, as Ben Holland continues to find his mojo.

Rupert Archer/Phil Hyde (Hannafin Adolf RS) will benefit significantly from the absence of Rob Biggs/Jeroen Schmitz and Scott Lawrie/Shelley Smithies (Team SLR Yamaha) who are also entered for Germany.

Despite the FIM clash, the grid is strong with several wild cards joining the party. Among those is the extremely fast Lee Crawford, who with regular passenger Scott Hardie alongside, is expected to be getting to grips with a new “long chassis” LCR powered by Kawasaki for team ARC.

TT winner Conrad Harrison joins the line-up as do Brian Ilaria and Matty Sims with their Suzuki. It will be interesting to see how these short chassis outfits cope against the long bikes on the flowing lines of Donington Park.

Lewis Nicol and Rhys Gibbons make the long trek from Cupar to throw their hats into the ring and are an unknown force against the Molson regulars.

It could well be a very different points table at the close of play at Donington Park on Sunday with Lewis Blackstock desperate to keep his hopes alive going into the Brands finale.

One thing is certain, it will be a brave man to place odds against Ben and Tom Birchall doing the double.

Photo credits: Jenny “Triker” Wells

British F1: Birchalls prevail at Snetterton as they and Ellis smash lap record

British F1: Birchalls prevail at Snetterton as they and Ellis smash lap record

British F1: Birchalls prevail at Snetterton as they and Ellis smash lap record

Race 2 Ellis & Clement, Holden & Pitt, Holden & Lawrence

Fresh from double victory in the German national championship in which they defeated main rivals Tim Reeves and Markus Schlosser, Todd Ellis and Emmanuelle Clement had every reason to feel buoyant ahead of this home series round. In free practice, it became clear this would be a renewal of the battle between the Santander Salt pairing, and the Haith Honda of Ben and Tom Birchall. They had edged free practice by seven one-hundredths of a second.

Qualifying – The weather brightened up just in time and was much warmer as the session began. With the first race later in the day, and no warm-up prior, this sole twenty-minute qualifier was essential on all counts.

The 2019 British Champion went straight out to the top of the timesheets, with the Birchalls playing a waiting game.

Lewis Blackstock and Paddy Rosney continues their rich vein of form from Cadwell missing out by just seven tenths from the early leaders.

Four laps in and the Birchalls were third but looking fast and safe as they moved up a gear to find the missing one second. Behind these top three, there was a real fight between Biggs/Schmitz and Holland/Christie.

Next came a similar scrap involving Holden Senior, Scott Lawrie, Rupert Archer and Phil Bell.

Holland and Lawrie shared row three, with Archer/Bell making up row four. Ellis was well inside his own lap record pace, as Ben Birchall eclipsed that time with five minutes left. Ellis pitted, and when he resumed he was looking to find almost half a second. Biggs moved fourth pushing Ben Holland back, as Blackstock grimly sat third with a good cushion.

That’s how it finished, with the two rivals sharing the front row three tenths apart.

Race One – Lights out and the Birchall Honda flew off the line chased by Ellis/Clement. Lewis Blackstock put his nose between them on the run to turn one, but he was denied second place by a determined Ellis.

These three teams quickly established their place at the front, with Ellis climbing all over the back of the race leaders. The Santander Salt Yamaha had the sidecar wheel across the grass and into the dust on lap two, such was his eagerness to get on terms.

Sadly, on lap three the Santander Salt Yamaha was out of the running with a loose final drive sprocket. This was an unusually rare occurrence, and one which was infinitely better confined to this event, rather than a World Championship round.

That left Ben and Tom Birchall to clear off into the distance compounding their advantage by almost two seconds each lap.

Blackstock and Rosney were never threatened in runner-up spot and once Rob Biggs/Jeroen Schmitz established third, that is where they stayed, Ben Holland/Tom Christie ran strongly early on but were to hit problems and drop right down the order.

There was drama aplenty behind though, with Scott Lawrie/Shelley Smithies taking to the rough stuff with their Yamaha, Andy Peach/Ken Edwards pitting with mechanical problems and Brian Gray shedding passenger Rick Lawrence at the Murrays left-hander.

The most interesting battle raged all race between Phil Bell and John Holden for fourth. Bell and Connell prevailed for a strong finish and best result of the year so far. A recovering Craig Currie/Justin Sharpe backed up Ben Birchalls victory with a strong seventh on their first outing for several weeks.

Result –
1/ Ben/Tom Birchall (Haith Honda)
2/ Lewis Blackstock/Paddy Rosney (DHR/Express Tyre Service Yamaha)
3/ Rob Biggs/Jeroen Schmitz (Santander Salt Yamaha)
4/ Phil Bell/Jimmy Connell (Marin Motorsport Yamaha)
5/ John Holden/Jason Pitt (Barnes/Silicone Adolf RS Yamaha)
6/ Rupert Archer/Phil Hyde (Hannafin Adolf RS Yamaha)
7/ Craig Currie/Justin Sharpe (Birchall Racing Yamaha)
8/ George Holden/Oscar Lawrence (Holden Racing Suzuki)
9/ Kevin Cable/Lee Watson (L&W Contractors Yamaha)
10/ Scott Lawrie/Shelley Smithies (SLR Yamaha)

Race Two – The reverse grid always throws up excitement, and there was some of that on the opening laps. The Birchall brothers started from row five, and Ellis/Clement from the back of the grid. Pole sitter Scott Lawrie and Shelley Smithies had a great start into the lead and held that place until the Birchalls caught them up on lap three. Sadly, Lawrie was to retire close to the end of the race, but he and Shelley Smithies showed what they could do once again. They have had a good season – if a somewhat eventful one.

Ellis/Clement were less fortunate than the Birchalls, getting bogged down in traffic, one of which was Ben Birchalls’ team-mates Craig Currie and Justin Sharpe. Considering his recent confinement with Covid, Craig held up well and was strong until the closing stages claiming eighth at the flag.

The TV cameras focussed on several individual battles, one of which was a really good scrap between Blackstock/Rosney and Biggs/Schmitz. It would be a tough task to get the better of the DHR/Express Tyre Yamaha, but Biggs was determined and stuck to his guns. The result was a second podium, just three tenths ahead of his rival.

John Holden and Jason Pitt had another good solid ride, keeping Phil Bell at bay this time and moving to third in the standings ahead of a fighting Ben Holland. The gap at the front was slightly less than three seconds going into the final lap, but Birchall had enough up his sleeve to bring it home with a safe margin ahead of Todd Ellis/Emmanuelle Clement and a new lap record to boot. Both Birchall and Ellis smashed the record with lap times, just four one hundredths apart. It was therefore a double podium for Santander Salt with Ellis and Biggs all smiles. Despite the two at the front clearing off, the scraps further down the order were entertaining and did the image of sidecar racing no harm at all.

The only other retirement was Andy Peach who took an early bath on lap two.

Result –
1/ Ben/Tom Birchall
2/ Todd Ellis/Emmanuelle Clement (Santander Salt Yamaha)
3/ Rob Biggs/Jeroen Schmitz
4/ Lewis Blackstock/Paddy Rosney
5/ John Holden/Jason Pitt
6/ Phil Bell/Jimmy Connell
7/ Ben Holland/Tom Christie
8/ Craig Currie/Justin Sharpe
9/ Rupert Archer/Phil Hyde
10/ Kevin Cable/Lee Watson

Championship standings
Birchall 315
Blackstock 186
J Holden 138
Holland 135
Biggs 100
Archer 97
Ellis 90
Lawrie 90
G Holden 87
Peach 79
Christie 76
Bell 76

The next round comes from Donington Park 1-3 October.

Photo credits: Jenny “Triker” Wells

British F1: Ellis and Clement versus Birchall brothers in round six Snetterton September 3-5th

British F1: Ellis and Clement versus Birchall brothers in round six Snetterton September 3-5th

British F1: Ellis and Clement versus Birchall brothers in round six Snetterton September 3-5th

Race action

Well into the second half of the season, Ben and Tom Birchall have taken the lion’s share of victories, having been defeated just twice. The only crew running them close on a regular basis is the Lewis Blackstock/Paddy Rosney duo on the DHR/Express Tyre Service Yamaha.

Last time out at Cadwell Park, inclement weather conditions played a part, with Blackstock/Rosney just one second behind at the flag. They sit second in the table by a comfortable margin.

It was in similar weather conditions one month ago, also at Cadwell, that World Championship runners Todd Ellis and Emmanuelle Clement took the Santander Salt Yamaha to twin victories ahead of the Birchalls and will be looking to do the same at Snetterton.

The twists and turns of the Snetterton 300 circuit with suit the Haith Honda, but with a string of podiums including victory in world races already, Ellis/Clement’s Yamaha will be on full song.

A revitalised Ben Holland, with Tom Christie alongside is enjoying his season, and his old hunger is there to see. They are third in the standings on the Kawasaki, but the omnipresent John Holden/Jason Pitt (Barnes/Silicone Yamaha) sit a mere handful of points behind.

Scott Lawrie, having something of an eventful year, could have been higher up the board than fifth, had he and Shelley Smithies not destroyed their Suzuki LCR in a big crash at the Cadwell Revival. Undeterred, they will be on the case to replace those lost points in Norfolk.

More talent comes in the shape of George Holden and Oscar Lawrence. They are having their first full year and learning all the time. More than capable of running top six, they will relish Snetterton on their very fast Suzuki.

At the time of going to press, newcomers Craig Currie and Justin Sharp are down to ride despite Currie having an enforced sabbatical with Covid. We certainly hope to see him back in action for Birchall Racing. World Championship contenders Kevin Cable/Lee Watson are also on the list having left Cadwell Park with a blown engine.

All four Japanese engine manufacturers feature in the sidecar class, as well as a diversity of chassis manufacturers. These include the popular LCR, the Adolf RS, and now a new name from the UK, the Ryde F1 in the hands of wildcards Chris Wright and Paul Bailey.

Take a trip into the paddock and marvel at the technology involved. You will be made welcome.

Photo credits: Jenny “Triker” Wells

British F1: Damp Cadwell Park sees Birchall brothers increase lead

British F1: Damp Cadwell Park sees Birchall brothers increase lead

British F1: Damp Cadwell Park sees Birchall brothers increase lead

Race 1 Birchall & Birchall, Blackstock & Rosney, Biggs & Schmitz

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 1 Biggs & Schmitz, Holland & Christie, Holden & Pitt

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.

Race 1 Archer & Hyde, Bell & Connell, Lawrie & Smithies, Holden & Lawrence

Result –
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.

Tom Christie

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
groove.

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.

Race 2 Birchall & Birchall, Blackstock & Rosney, Holland & Christie

Result –
1/ Birchall/Birchall
2/ Blackstock/Rosney
3/ Holland/Christie
4/ Holden/Pitt
5/ Lawrie/Smithies
6/ Bell/Connell
7/ Holden/Lawrence
8/ Peach/Edwards
9/ Robinson/Fairhurst
10/ Archer/Hyde

Championship standings –
Birchall 265
Blackstock 153
Holland 122
J Holden 116
Lawrie 84
Archer 80
Peach 79
Christie 76
G Holden 74
Ellis 70.

The next round comes from Snetterton September 3-5th.

Photo credits: Jenny “Triker” Wells

British F1: Cadwell Sidecar Revival 2021 T-Shirts on sale

British F1: Cadwell Sidecar Revival 2021 T-Shirts on sale

British F1: Cadwell Sidecar Revival 2021 T-Shirts on sale

Cadwell Revival 2021 Tshirt - light yellow
Cadwell Revival 2021 Tshirt - dark yellow

Cadwell Park Sidecar Revival T-Shirts are now available to purchase from Ebay.

The links below will take you to the Ebay listings where you will be able to purchase them. They are available in light yellow or dark yellow and available in sizes small to extra large.

The t-shirts are £10.00 each and £3.50 postage.

Light Yellow Cadwell Revival T-Shirt 2021 – Size small
https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/294332014063

Light Yellow Cadwell Revival T-Shirt 2021 – Size Medium
https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/294332012228

Light Yellow Cadwell Revival T-Shirt 2021 – Size Large
https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/294332015652

Light Yellow Cadwell Revival T-Shirt 2021 – Size Extra Large
https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/294332043728

Dark Yellow Cadwell Revival T-Shirt 2021 – Size small
https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/294332048045

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British F1: Birchalls take huge lead into round five at Cadwell Park

British F1: Birchalls take huge lead into round five at Cadwell Park

British F1: Birchalls take huge lead into round five at Cadwell Park

Race action from Cadwell Park

The Molson Group Sidecars return to Lincolnshire just two weeks after appearing at the popular Cadwell Sidecar Revival meeting.

Unbeaten up to that point, series leaders Ben and Tom Birchall took a win and two second places, beaten only by FIM World Championship top runners Todd Ellis and Emmanuelle Clement.

The Santander Salt teamsters are away in Croatia, a clash with the popular BSB weekend, so the coast is clear for the Mansfield boys to resume normal service on their Haith Honda. They recorded the fastest ever 600cc three- wheeled lap of Cadwell in qualifying two weeks ago, so given the right weather pattern, the stage is set for more rapid action.

Also heading for the Rijeka circuit in the sun are Steve Kershaw/Ryan Charlwood, Rob Biggs/Jeroen Schmitz and Kevin Cable/Kyle Masters. Tim Reeves/Kevin Rosseau are committed solely to overseas racing this year, so will also be in Croatia.

Back to the here and now, with a trio of third places last time out, Lewis Blackstock and Paddy Rosney have moved second in the title chase albeit over one hundred points adrift.

A rejuvenated Ben Holland, with Tom Christie alongside, has muscled the JH Racing Kawasaki into third spot in the standings, as they enjoy something of a stellar season. Evergreen John Holden sits fourth but will be looking over his shoulder for his precocious son George, who defeated him for the first time at the Cadwell Revival event.

Sadly, we are also missing two fast crews with injuries. Sam and Adam Christie were Thruxton casualties, whilst Tommy Philp had a massive crash into the tyre wall at Mansfield last time out at Cadwell.

He is recovering from rib and lung damage at the time of going to press. We wish both crews all speed with their recovery. Scott Lawrie and Shelley Smithies also wrecked their bike in the same meeting, giving them much work to do ahead of the coming weekend. You can be sure they will be intent on making up lost ground.

Clashes with World Championship races have been numerous this year, and the door has been left open for big points opportunities. This is yet another of those weekends. However, on current form, it seems unlikely anyone will catch Ben and Tom Birchall, given the pace and sheer stability of their new Honda CBR600.

But, and there is always a but, – there could yet be adverse weather, or possible mechanical issues to hamper their progress. In racing, you just never know. Whatever happens, the Cadwell Park party atmosphere will be unrivalled.

Photo credits: Jenny “Triker” Wells

British F1: Birchalls and Ellis/Clement dominate damp Cadwell Park

British F1: Birchalls and Ellis/Clement dominate damp Cadwell Park

British F1: Birchalls and Ellis/Clement dominate damp Cadwell Park

Race 1 Biggs/Schmitz & Holland/Christie

The celebrated Cadwell Sidecar Revival attracted a full entry of all manner of sidecars, with the main focus being on the three championship races.

Todd Ellis (Santander Salt Yamaha) had his French lady passenger alongside for his second British Championship appearance in as many weeks. Ben and Tom Birchall (Haith Honda) were more than keen to fight for their unbroken record of victories.

Absent from Cadwell Park were Sam and Adam Christie because of Adam’s Thruxton injuries. At this moment in time, the Christie bike will continue to be missing, with the ankle injury to Adam more serious than initially thought. Asked if he might be tempted to use a replacement passenger to protect their points, Sam said the family feeling was, that racing was on hold pending Adam’s recovery. Let’s all hope it is sooner rather than later. Scott Lawrie and Shelley Smithies had a huge crash at Mansfield in Friday practice which seriously bent the bike and ended their weekend prematurely. Happily, both were none the worse for the experience. They intend being back at Cadwell in two weeks time.

Qualifying – Saturday dawned cool but bright, with every prospect of a dry weekend ahead. Todd Ellis and Emmanuelle Clement set an early pace, but it was not long before Ben and Tom Birchall went under their own lap with the fastest three-wheeled time ever recorded at Cadwell to claim pole position by well over one second. The Haith Honda sounded sublime, and the pair looked very smooth indeed.

Tommy Philp and Tom Bryant (Roberts Construction Yamaha) were another quick crew running very similar times to Ellis/Clement, whilst Lewis Blackstock and Paddy Rosney were also not far adrift. Rob Biggs/Jeroen Schmitz ending up fifth fastest.

At the end of the session, a communication breakdown saw Tommy Philp accelerate up the mountain, when Tom Bryant his passenger was preparing to exit stage left into the holding area. He was dumped on the tarmac, with Philp briefly continuing alone. That, however, was not the end of their drama.

Race One – The Birchalls flew off the line in dry fast conditions chased by Ellis/Clement, and for three laps the gap was never more than four tenths of a second. The Honda looked to be superior on straight-line speed and smooth as silk in the bends.

Try as he might, Ellis could not close them down, but chased them home over twelve laps to second place. The winning margin was five seconds at the flag, with Blackstock/Rosney some thirteen seconds further back. Tommy Philp and Tom Bryant were again close in fourth and looking dangerous, until they discovered the exhaust shield had been left in the garage, and not where it should have been protecting the driver. Philp persevered adrenalin fuelled, not giving an inch despite being in constant pain. He made it to the end without losing places but shed some skin from his ankles along the way.

Rob Biggs/Jeroen Schmitz, Ben Holland/Tom Christie and John Holden/Jason Pitt made a real race of it split by just nine seconds at the flag, as George Holden/Oscar Lawrence brought it home in eighth. A close quartet completed the lower order, as Andy Peach/Ken Edwards fought off a race-long challenge from Kevin Cable/Lee Watson, Rupert Archer/Phil Hyde, and Simon Robinson/Mick Fairhurst. Final place for three points went to Craig Clarke/Peter Ensor for City Lifting.

Clark/Ensor - Peach/Edwards - Robinson/Fairhurst - Cable/Watson

Result
1/ Ben/Tom Birchall (Haith Honda)
2/ Todd Ellis/Emmanuelle Clement (Santander Salt Yamaha)
3/ Lewis Blackstock/Paddy Rosney (DHR Express Tyres Yamaha)
4/ Tommy Philp/Tom Bryant (Roberts Construction Yamaha)
5/ Rob Biggs/Jeroen Schmitz (Santander Salt Yamaha)
6/ Ben Holland/Tom Christie (JH Racing Kawasaki)
7/ John Holden/Jason Pitt (Barnes Silicone Racing Adolf RS Yamaha)
8/ George Holden/Oscar Lawrence (Suzuki LCR)
9/ Andy Peach/Ken Edwards (Life Safety Yamaha)
10/ Kevin Cable/Lee Watson (L&W Yamaha)

Race Two – With no reverse grid applied at Cadwell, and cool, grey weather conditions, was there an opportunity for Todd Ellis to reign in the flying Birchalls?

Fourteen laps were a good distance in which to do it, and when the lights went off, you just knew the Anglo/French couple were going to give it their best shot. Emmanuelle was learning all the time, so there was every chance

From the lights, again Ben and Tom Birchall led the charge into Coppice and round Charlie’s. On the run down from the Gooseneck to Mansfield, a flash shower caught all the leaders out, with the Birchalls and Todd Ellis going straight onto the grass, along with Lewis Blackstock who just managing to avoid crashing. Tommy Philp/Tom Bryant were not so lucky and came unstuck into the tyre wall, causing the red flag to come out. Both were examined at the scene with Tommy being airlifted to hospital with chest injuries and for further precautionary checks. All best wishes go to Tommy for a speedy return from what turned out to be rib and lung damage. After a heavy downpour, the race was restarted in wet conditions.

This time around, the only tyre choice was full wets, but even as they started, the rain had abated, and the sun was out. The Birchall boys again hit the front chased by the Santander Salt Ellis/Clement pairing. Blackstock and Rosney once more dropped into third, and that is where they stayed for a respectable, if lonely race, Ben Holland and Tom Christie got their Kawasaki into fourth after an early challenge from Rob Biggs/Jeroen Schmitz. This was a strong race for Holland, and he was never threatened once the race settled down. A great battle between the Holdens John and George resulted in the new generation surpassing the old. It was heart-warming to see the quality from both crews throughout the scrap.

Mention should be made of a good performance from Craig Clarke and Peter Ensor as they obviously revelled in the adverse conditions.

Four laps from the end and Ellis/Clement made the move which secured an impressive victory on destroyed rubber. Ben Birchall was magnanimous in defeat despite the fact his unbroken win record in the series had gone.

Barry Nutley interviewing Todd Ellis / Emmanuelle Clement

Result
1/ Ellis/Clement
2/ Ben/Tom Birchall
3/ Blackstock/Rosney
4/ Holland/Christie
5/ Biggs/Schmitz
6/ G Holden/Lawrence
7/ J Holden/Pitt
8/ Peach/Edwards
9/ Clarke/Ensor
10/ Cable/Watson
11/ Archer/Hyde
12/ Robinson/Fairhurst

Race Three – This was declared a wet race, although Rob Biggs made the decision to go out on intermediate tyres. It was a gamble which did not pay off as once again the weather closed in, and persistent rain fell.

The Birchalls made the start, with Ellis/Clement tardy off the line allowing Blackstock through. That was not for long, and this time Ellis got in the groove quickly, assuming control early on. Such was the massive points lead amassed by Ben and Tom Birchall, to risk a crash would have been foolish. Lap times were ten seconds slower in tricky conditions, but that did not stop a brave challenge by Ben Holland/Tom Christie for the final podium position. They chased Blackstock/Rosney down all race long to within one second at the flag. Three podiums for Blackstock moves them to second place in the standings. John Holden, still smarting from defeat by his son, made no mistake this time with an inspired ride to fifth ahead of Andy Peach/Ken Edwards, both still suffering from their big Thruxton crash. A small error by George Holden dropped them off the pace, but they rounded out the weekend with seventh place.

Race 3 Podium - Ellis/Clement - Birchalls - Blackstock/Rosney

Result
1/ Ellis/Clement
2/ Birchall/Birchall
3/ Blackstock/Rosney
4/ Holland/Christie
5/ J Holden/Pitt
6/ Peach/Edwards
7/ G Holden/Lawrence
8/ Robinson/Fairhurst
9/ Cable/Watson
10/ Archer/Hyde

Standings
Birchall 215
Blackstock 113
Holland 95
J Holden 90
Christie 76
Ellis 70
Philp 69
Archer 66
Peach 65
Lawrie 63
G Holden 58
Biggs 52
Clarke 37
Bell 34
Robinson 32
Cable 30
Gilbert 17
Currie 12

The next round is back at Cadwell Park BSB 20-22 August.

Photo credits: Jenny “Triker” Wells

British F1: Fast Thruxton and six not out for Birchalls

British F1: Fast Thruxton and six not out for Birchalls

British F1: Fast Thruxton and six not out for Birchalls

Race one starting lap

Cooler and mixed weather provided interesting racing conditions on what is widely acknowledged as one of the toughest tracks in the UK. With no FIM World round clash for the next two domestic championship weekends, there was a strong entry for both this, and the upcoming Cadwell Park Sidecar Revival. Fresh from success in Assen, Todd Ellis, reunited with Charlie Richardson for home rounds on the Santander Salt Yamaha, was determined to pick up where he left off when last on UK business.

Ben and Tom Birchall arrived at Thruxton on maximum points score from four races, with every intention of maintaining that unbroken record. Torrential rain fell immediately prior to free practice so all seventeen crews began the twenty-minute session on full wet tyres. Todd Ellis set the early pace in the wet, with Ben and Tom Birchall holding station second fastest. Given the weather was very showery, it was clear the situation would change by the time qualifying came around.

Ben Holland and Tom Christie were strong, along with Lewis Blackstock/Paddy Rosney, the Christie brothers and Tommy Philp/Tom Bryant, who nipped fourth fastest at the very end behind Blackstock.

Race action

Qualifying – Heavy rain had indeed abated on Saturday morning, but damp patches persisted around the circuit. General tyre choice was slicks initially to see how things turned out!

At the front there were no surprises as World Championship class showed. The Birchalls and Ellis/Richardson ran neck and neck for most of the session. Tommy Philp and Tom Bryant, gaining confidence with every outing moved third, just as Ben/Tom Birchall set a phenomenal lap half a second inside their own lap record. Ellis at this precise time was in the pit, and just might have been caught napping. Blackstock/Rosney ousted Philp, with the Christie boys and Holland/Christie in the hunt on the lone Kawasaki.

In the closing stages, Rob Biggs moved his Santander Salt Yamaha fifth with a strong fourteenth lap only to be pipped at the post by Ben Holland. With Ellis still in pit lane, pole position went to Ben and Tom Birchall (Haith Honda). Blackstock and Philp made up row two, with Holland and Biggs forming row three.

The Holden family were on rows four and five respectively, with father John and the Christies just ahead of son George and Scott Lawrie completing row five.

Race One – In bright sunlight, twelve laps would be a daunting prospect for the three- wheelers. The sheer speed, the abrasive nature of the track and the right-handed bends which go on forever make life extremely difficult for passengers. Even the best are caught out on this unforgiving track, but that certainly was not the case for Ben and Tom Birchall. The Haith Honda pairing were unstoppable from the word go and established a massive lead as the race developed. The fight for second place was a totally different matter, with Todd Ellis/Charlie Richardson, Tommy Philp/Tom Bryant and Lewis Blackstock/Paddy Rosney locked in a fierce struggle throughout.

Sam and Adam Christie were never far away in fifth, having their own scrap with John Holden/Jason Pitt as Holland and Archer sat just behind. Sadly, the popular Christie brothers were to part company on lap seven.

In fairness, the battles all down the order were worthy of note, and supreme as the Birchall brothers were, their light out front shone alone. The focus of the live television direction was very much on the incredible action behind. As the pack closed in on Todd Ellis, it became obvious four laps in that all was not well.

Ellis was off the pace and the pack were swarming all over him by half distance. That was when he pulled into pit lane, and it was game over. Chaz Richardson admitted afterwards that his long lay-off plus the arduous nature of the track, made it all a bit too much.

The mid-pack scrap was good, with Ben Holland/Tom Christie fighting hard with friends and paddock buddies Rupert Archer/Phil Hyde. John Holden/Jason Pitt had a brilliant ride to fourth place ahead of this battle to equal their best performance to date at Oulton Park. Phil Bell/Jimmy Connell pipped Andy Peach/Ken Edwards to seventh by a whisker, with new daddy Simon Robinson/Mick Fairhurst having his best ride.

The red flag came out when the Adam Christie came off exiting Church at frightening speed. He sustained breaks to an ankle and one hand, was hospitalised for the repairs, and to remove rubber debris from his injured hand. Our best wishes go to him for a speedy recovery.

Ellis/Richardson and Holden/Lawrence

Result
1/ 1/ Ben Birchall (Haith Honda)
2/ Tommy Philp/Tom Bryant (Roberts Construction Yamaha)
3/ Lewis Blackstock/Paddy Rosney (LCR Yamaha)
4/ John Holden/Jason Pitt (Barnes/Silicone Adolf RS Yamaha)
5/ Ben Holland/Tom Christie (LCR Kawasaki)
6/ Rupert Archer/Phil Hyde (Hannafin Adolf RS)
7/ Phil Bell/Jimmy Connell (Marin Motorsport Yamaha)
8/ Andy Peach/Ken Edwards (Lifesafety Yamaha)
9/ Simon Robinson/Mick Fairhurst (LCR Yamaha)
10/ Simon Gilbert/Paul Thomas (G Force Adolf RS).

Race Two – The reverse grid was set, and Simon Gilbert led the charge from pole position making an impressive fluorescent orange target at the front. Alongside them, new boys Simon Robinson/Mick Fairhurst started well but the traffic was swarming all over them on lap one. Todd Ellis/Chaz Richardson had decided to sit this one out given the first race experience, so they were reluctant spectators.

From row five, Ben and Tom Birchall initially had less success than Tommy Philp/Tom Bryant who very quickly were at the sharp end. Two laps in and Philp was fighting with Blackstock/Rosney before forcing to the front and breaking away, with the Birchalls bogged down in the traffic.

The action behind this scrap and mid-pack raged for half the race with notable performances by John Holden/Jason Pitt and Ben Holland/Tom Christie. Scott Lawrie/Shelley Smithies fought up from the back row to claim fifth at the flag behind Holden. This result moved them fourth in the table. Lap six saw slight contact between Rob Biggs/Jeroen Schmitz and Andy Peach Ken Edwards resulting in Peach spinning and rolling over. Mercifully, both were none the worse for the experience. Rob Biggs was the first to check on the pair on the slow-down lap, and all is well between them. Once up with Philp, the Birchall boys chose the moment to pass, and when through, opened a six second margin almost matching their own lap record set earlier in the day.

The battle for second between Holden and Holland went the way of the burly local man by four one-hundredths of a second, giving Ben Holland/Tom Christie a debut podium.

Blackstock/Rosney appeared to have an issue after a hard bump over the chicane kerb, and they dropped to sixth ahead of Biggs/Schmitz and Phil Bell/Jimmy Connell. This was by far the best we have seen from Tommy Philp/Tom Bryant, who have now well and truly emerged as potential champions of the future. Three podiums from three finishes say it all.

Podium

Result
1/ Ben/Tom Birchall
2/ Tommy Philp/Tom Bryant
3/ Ben Holland/Tom Christie
4/ John Holden/Jason Pitt
5/ Scott Lawrie/Shelley Smithies (Team SLR Suzuki LCR)
6/ Lewis Blackstock/Paddy Rosney
7/ Rob Biggs/Jeroen Schmitz
8/ Phil Bell/Jimmy Connell
9/ Rupert Archer/Phil Hyde
10/ Kevin Cable/Lee Watson (L&W Contractors Yamaha)

Standings
Birchall 150
Christie 76
Blackstock 65
Lawrie 63
J Holden 61
Holland 59
Philp 56
Archer 50
Peach 40
Bell 34
G Holden 31
Biggs 30
Clarke 27
Gilbert 17
Robinson 16
Currie 12
Cable 11
Hildige 9

The next round is from The Cadwell Revival 6-8 August.

Photo credits: Jenny “Triker” Wells

British F1: Watch Molson British Sidecars on Quest live

British F1: Watch Molson British Sidecars on Quest live

British F1: Watch Molson British Sidecars on Quest live

Sidecar action from Brands Hatch

WATCH SIDECARS LIVE ON QUEST. That’s right, the British Sidecar Championship first race from Thruxton will be live on Quest at 17:30 today (Saturday 31st July) as part of the full BSB showing. Make sure to be there or click on that record button to watch the action later.

Photo credits: Jenny “Triker” Wells

British F1: Birchalls prove hard to beat in Kent

British F1: Birchalls prove hard to beat in Kent

British F1: Birchalls prove hard to beat in Kent

Race 2 - Birchall Racing win

A slightly smaller grid than normal due to a World Championship clash with Assen and one or two Covid related absentees, did nothing to detract from the quality of racing at Brands Hatch. The recent heatwave had abated slightly, but free practice was dry and warm, with the Birchall Brothers picking up where they left off at Oulton Park. They were over a second faster at the head, with Tommy Philp/Tom Bryant and the Christie Brothers close together and chasing. John Holden’s machine caught fire, damaging his feet in the process, but the BSB Marshalls did a great job extinguishing the worst of the flames.

Qualifying – The weather had cooled and clouded over for the one and only session. This would suit some and not others, but the Birchalls were on a mission from the word go. The Haith Honda was flying, and they banged in an early time two seconds ahead of the chasing pack.

They were not to be headed, and pole position was theirs for the taking. Tommy Philp/Tom Bryant, along with Sam and Adam Christie looked to be the most likely challengers, and there was nothing to choose between those two crews with ten minutes left on the clock.

Race 1: Philp/Bryant and Christie/Christie

Scott Lawrie/Shelley Smithies looked strong in fourth, as Lewis Blackstock sat in the pits. Three minutes to go and Blackstock had re-joined, moving fourth, with Tommy Philp and the Christie brothers closing the gap to the Birchalls to one and a half seconds. It was shaping up to be a four-horse race, with Scott Lawrie still in with a shout. Rupert Archer/Phil Hyde improved dramatically to record their best qualifying for a while as they claimed sixth fastest nearly four seconds back.

Race One – Race-day finally dawned wet and windy, but with the Saturday race postponed to Sunday lunchtime, conditions were virtually perfect by the time the teams lined up. From a safe pole position, the Birchall brothers fended off an early challenge from Tommy Philp and Tom Bryant before getting their heads down to never really be bothered again. It was a different matter behind though, and a three-way scrap developed between Philp/Bryant, the Christie brothers Sam and Adam, and Lewis Blackstock/Paddy Rosney.

This was shaping up to be something special, and then Blackstock was out with a damaged sidecar wheel-arch, only for Tommy Philp to blow his engine one lap later. Eight laps pass very quickly, but their misfortune played into the hands of Scott Lawrie/Shelley Smithies, who moved into third and a podium place.

So, it was maximum points for Ben and Tom Birchall and an unblemished record thus far in the title chase. They posted a fastest lap less than one second outside their own lap record set in 2017.

Race 1 - Birchall/Birchall

Result
1/ Ben/Tom Birchall (Haith Honda)
2/ Sam/Adam Christie (CES Yamaha)
3/ Scott Lawrie/Shelley Smithies (SLR Suzuki)
4/ Ben Holland/Tom Christie
5/ John Holden/Jason Pitt (Barnes Racing Adolf RS)
6/ Rupert Archer/Phil Hyde (Hannafin Adolf RS)
7/ Andy Peach/Ken Edwards (Life Safety Yamaha)
8/ Phil Bell/James Connell (Marin Motorsport Yamaha)
9/ George Holden/Oscar Lawrence (Holden Racing Suzuki)
10/ Simon Gilbert/Paul Thomas (G-Force Racing Adolf RS Yamaha).

Race Two – The reverse grid rule put Simon Gilbert/Paul Thomas on pole, with the Birchalls on row five alongside the Christie brothers. Even worse off were Tommy Philp and Tom Bryant two rows back and last crew on the grid. The first two or three laps were manic, with Phil Bell/Jimmy Connell having a good run at the front once they had made their way past Gilbert. George Holden/Oscar Lawrence were pit-lane starters once again, with loads of work ahead of them.

It took until lap four before the fast men were at the sharp end, but not before Ben Holland/Tom Christie and Rupert Archer/Phil Hyde had made their presence felt. There were five or six outfits ducking and diving at the front, with the Birchalls and Lewis Blackstock/Paddy Rosney also in the mix. Holland and Archer were to continue their fight to the flag, gaining fifth and sixth places for their efforts.

Race 2: Clarke/Ensor, Bichall/Birchall, Blackstock/Rosney, Lawrie/Smithies

Going well from row three, John Holden/Jason Pitt had overcome their earlier Adolf RS bonfire but were spun out when clipped by Gilbert. Then Simon Gilbert was out, followed three laps later by Holden.

But the charge through the field by Philp/Bryant was nothing short of sensational, and they were right at the sharp end by half-distance, challenging Blackstock, the Christies and Ben/Tom Birchall.

Philp meant business, even though by this time the Birchall brothers had a three second lead. Sadly, his day was to be ruined when he and Tom Bryant ended up in the gravel after they spun out. It was double disappointment for the Roberts Construction crew, but with Thruxton just one week away, there would be more chances.

Scott Lawrie is once again worthy of mention as he and Shelley Smithies made steady progress to eventually claim fourth place behind Blackstock/Rosney and the Christie brothers. Double wins for Ben and Tom Birchall assured their unbroken maximum points record.

Race 1: Lawrie/Smithies

Result
1/ Birchall/Birchall
2/ Christie/Christie
3/ Blackstock/Rosney
4/ Lawrie/Smithies
5/ Holland/Christie
6/ Archer/Hyde
7/ Bell/Connell
8/ G.Holden/Lawrence
9/ Peach/Edwards
10/ Clarke/Ensor

Standings
Birchall 100
Christie 76
Lawrie 52
Blackstock 39
J.Holden 35
Archer 33
Peach 32
Holland 32
G.Holden 24
Biggs 21
Clarke 21
Bell 17
Philp 16

Round Three comes from Thruxton July 30/August 1.

Photo credits: Jenny “Triker” Wells

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