British F1: Double top and lap record for Ellis and Clement at Oulton Park

British F1: Double top and lap record for Ellis and Clement at Oulton Park

British F1: Double top and lap record for Ellis and Clement at Oulton Park

Race 1 podium

​The opening two races of the 2022 season at a packed Oulton Park gave the spectators good value for money, despite a reduced grid size. Clashes with other events diluted the normally strong attendance. However, it was clear to see the crowds were delighted to be back trackside at BSB, with its full programme of support classes.

Following free practice in which Todd Ellis/Emmanuelle Clement set quickest time on the Santander Salt Yamaha, the sunny conditions which prevailed for two days prior, turned into a grey day with spots of rain in the air just as the outfits rolled out for qualifying.

Thirteen crews were entered, with a good bunch of fast boys intending to give Ellis a run for his money. Lewis Blackstock/Paddy Rosney and Sam/Tom Christie (CES Yamaha) were second and third quickest, with George Holden/Oscar Lawrence (Kawasaki LCR) running a strong fourth. John Holden/Jason Pitt were impressive on their TT F2 chassis with a standard specification motor fitted. Gary Bryan and Phil Hyde were another crew
bedding in their TT LCR Honda, looking not in the slightest rusty.

Qualifying

From the word go, despite tricky conditions, Ellis/Clement were in attack mode, with the Christie brothers giving it their best shot. The race lap-record set by Ben and Tom Birchall last season was the benchmark, and the World Series leaders surpassed that on lap six. A time of 1.43.644 was two tenths inside the record, and that was on a cold and very slightly damp track, which the French lady was seeing for the first time. Behind them, the Christie brothers and Blackstock/Rosney were strong, with George Holden/Oscar Lawrence marginally quicker than Pete Founds/Jevan Walmsley on their Rowtech Honda. Always a force to be reckoned with, Pete Founds was his usual determined self.

Rob Biggs and Jeroen Schmitz suffered head gasket failure, with Paul/Tom Kirby out of action with suspected clutch problems on their KRT Racing Yamaha Adolf RS. Both crews were busy in the garage at the close of play, and would do their best to make the grid for the opening race, albeit from the back. So, the front row featured Ellis/Clement and Blackstock/Rosney, from Sam/Tom Christie and George Holden/Oscar Lawrence, then came F2 rivals Founds/Walmsley and Holden/Pitt, with row four carrying Andy Peach/Ken Edwards and Simon Robinson/Mick Fairhurst.

Two ten lap races were scheduled, so there was plenty of opportunity to grab big points. Given there were a couple of clashes between World and British title fights, it was imperative that Todd Ellis scored as many as possible here at the opener.

Race One

Overnight rain fell, but by the time the outfits arrived at the line, the track had seen hectic British Superbike action dry the track. Pole sitters Ellis/Clement got a flyer, chased by Blackstock/Rosney. The Christies were up into third and there they stayed. The speed differential between them and Blackstock was tight but overtaking on the Oulton Park circuit is not easy. Next came Pete Founds and Jevan Walmsley. The leading F2 outfit was hassled in the early laps by a hard charging George Holden/Oscar Lawrence.

Holden / Lawrence

There was a new level of determination from the former Bemsee champions, and their bike was fast. They swarmed all over Founds/Walmsley until the 600 Kawasaki let go in a big way, breaking a con-rod. The dry sump configuration contained the oil in the tank, so there was no contamination to the track. That left Pete Founds to make fourth place his, ahead of John Holden/Jason Pitt, who with their standard engine, claimed the fourth place points.

Shawn and Anthony Hildige had a hairy moment exiting Old Hall on lap three, slamming the Armco barrier at 115 MPH before spinning and throwing Anthony from the chair. They were lucky not to go in head-on. This ended their day. Another rare, if not unique situation saw Phil Hyde exit Gary Bryan’s Honda, only to jump straight back in and claim a ninth- place finish.

Simon Robinson/Mick Fairhurst made great strides from a pit-lane start to overhaul Andy Peach/Ken Edwards for sixth place, with Rob Biggs/Jeroen Schmitz still with coolant trouble, not completing a lap. Tom Kirby was feeling the effects of no track-time and found Oulton Park almost a bridge too far in race one, but after a good night’s sleep, had his head in a better place for race two. Nonetheless, they were credited with a finish and points. This pair of Kirbys are committed to the season, and simply need to be more on the bike. Lap times were good, and all the signs are there. They were up there with Craig Hauxwell and Gary Bryan, so they can take encouragement from that.

Hauxwell / Taylor

At the front, Todd Ellis/Emmanuelle Clement were cruising, but banged in a new lap record on their way to victory. They were half a second quicker than Ben and Tom Birchall were this time last year. Blackstock/Rosney and the Christie brothers completed the podium with polished displays.

 

Result

1/ Todd Ellis/Emmanuelle Clement (Santander Salt Yamaha)
2/ Lewis Blackstock/Paddy Rosney (DHR/Express Tyre Services Yamaha)
3/ Sam Christie/Adam Christie (Christie Engineering Services Yamaha)
4/ Pete Founds/Jevan Walmsley (Rowtech Honda F2)
5/ John Holden/Jason Pitt (Barnes Racing Yamaha F2)
6/ Simon Robinson/Mick Fairhurst (24/7 Courier Service Yamaha)
7/ Andy Peach/Ken Edwards (Lifesafety Yamaha)
8/ Craig Hauxwell/Derek Taylor (VINYLS 4U Adolf RS Yamaha)
9/ Gary Bryan/Phil Hyde (GBR Honda LCR)
10/ Paul Kirby/Tom Kirby (KRT Racing Yamaha)

Race Two

In keeping with tradition, the reverse grid saw Paul and Tom Kirby on pole position alongside Gary Bryan/Phil Hyde. The first few laps were spectacular, in fact the action surpassed the first race in terms of entertainment. Craig Hauxwell and Derek Taylor went onto the grass at Cascades on lap one, spinning on the gravel and ending up capsized. Neither was hurt, dented pride being the only affliction. Pete Founds/Jevan Walmsley were not about to pass up the chance of having top crews behind and led after lap one from Blackstock/Rosney and Gary Bryan/Phil Hyde. Todd Ellis was fifth but on a charge. He was soon up with the leaders and went ahead on lap three.

He and Clement were never to look back, setting another new lap record in the process. They came to within one second of Tim/Tristan Reeves 1000cc best from 2017 with a time of 1.42.987.

Race action

Sam/Tom Christie’s Yamaha was the fastest through the speed traps, and testament to their engineering skills. They fought from eighth on lap one to third at the flag, although it took them five laps to muscle past Pete Founds. Rob Biggs/Jeroen Schmitz spun the other Santander Salt bike, but given the way their weekend had gone, were more than happy to recover and claim ten valuable points. Once the Christies had dispensed with Pete Founds, it was the turn of George Holden/Oscar Lawrence to tangle with the F2 star. Lap after lap he was hassled and harried, but only succumbed in the closing stages, as the youngsters shot by on the final lap. This scrap, with Holden junior using the spare engine – in his own words “an old motor”, was almost the highlight of the race.

Simon Robinson/Mick Fairhurst did another great job, bringing it home in sixth, ahead of Biggs and John Holden/Jason Pitt on their resplendent TT bike. Gary Bryan/Phil Hyde, along with pole men the battling Kirbys, completed the top ten, with another eight championship points going to the latter crew. They emerged from Oulton in sixth place overall – get in!!!

Ellis / Clement

Andy Peach/Ken Edwards, after scoring well in the opener, were deemed non-finishers along with Hauxwell/Taylor. All in all, given the shortage of entries due to alternative event clashes and TT preparation, the racing was good, if a little eventful, with the Ellis/Clement bringing their World series class to bear in emphatic style.

Result

1/ Ellis/Clement
2/ Blackstock/Rosney
3/ Christie/Christie
4/ Holden/Lawrence
5/ Founds/Walmsley
6/ Robinson/Fairhurst
7/Biggs/Schmitz
8/ Holden/pit
9/ Bryan/Hyde
10/ Kirby/Kirby

Standings

Ellis/Clement 50
Blackstock/Rosney 40
Christie/Christie 32
Holden/Pitt 22
Robinson/Fairhurst 22
Kirby/Kirby 16
Holden/Lawrence 13
Biggs/Schmitz 10
Peach/Edwards 10
Hauxwell/Taylor 9

Round Two comes from north of the border at Knockhill, Fife, June 17-19.

British F1: Cadwell Sidecar Revival is not far away – get on board

British F1: Cadwell Sidecar Revival is not far away – get on board

British F1: Cadwell Sidecar Revival is not far away – get on board

Race action from Cadwell Park Revival

The way time is running, we will be into full swing with racing action before we know it. Our season kicks off at Oulton Park, with Knockhill and Brands Hatch the next up. It is then off to Cadwell Park for the excitement and spectacle of the Sidecar Revival Festival.

The early August date is guaranteed to appeal to all sidecar fans, who have demonstrated in previous years how much they welcome the variety of outfits and personalities on show.

Given the difficult circumstances surrounding the past two seasons, we are determined to make this the best Revival ever, and for that reason we urge all owners of modern, classic, and period sidecar outfits to enter or become involved. There are classes for virtually all types of racing outfits from F1 British Championship spec. machinery to the grass roots bikes in the BHR Bears category.

If there is no specific class available for your machine in terms of actual competition then why not come along and join in the parades. This event has become a standard in the annual calendar with stars from far and wide joining in the fun.

Entries for the event are open and there is already strong interest, but the more the merrier, and we are keen to make this another memorable event. If you’ve registered before on the Bemsee website, then just go to www.bemsee.net and click on “Race Entries”.

If you are a new entry for the Revival you will need to register on the site and then will be free to enter the meeting.

Molson Championship dates are as below.

April 30/May 2 Oulton Park
June 17-19 Knockhill
July 22-24 Brands Hatch
August 5-7 Cadwell Revival
August 12-14 Thruxton
August 27-29 Cadwell Park
September 9-11 Snetterton
Sept 30-Oct 2 Donington Park
October 14-16 Brands Hatch

 

British F1: Cadwell Sidecar Revival is coming in August – don’t miss it

British F1: Cadwell Sidecar Revival is coming in August – don’t miss it

British F1: Cadwell Sidecar Revival is coming in August – don’t miss it

Cadwell Park flags

With all eyes on a full Molson Group British Championship in 2022, it’s important to note the fourth round will be at the popular and now well-established Cadwell Park Sidecar Revival.

This event has become a favourite with teams and spectators alike, and with restrictions imposed by two years of pandemic now easing, the entry is expected to be bigger than ever.

Classes over the weekend are as before, with the FSRA British F2’s and Wintec Pre-Injection brigade featuring strongly. Bemsee F1 and F2 outfits add to the spectacle, along with the ever popular and thunderous Camathias Cup and BHR Bears outfits completing the supporting line-up.

Grand Prix Legends and historic outfits will parade as before, with several former World Champions appearing in person.

Add to this the Molson Group Championship runners with the series at the half-way stage and this is bound to be another memorable weekend.

Entries for the event are already open. If you’ve registered before on the Bemsee website, then just go to www.bemsee.net and click on “Race Entries”.

If you are a new entry for the Revival you will need to register on the site and then will be free to enter the meeting.

Molson Championship dates are as below.

April 30/May 2 Oulton Park
June 17-19 Knockhill
July 22-24 Brands Hatch
August 5-7 Cadwell Revival
August 12-14 Thruxton
August 27-29 Cadwell Park
September 9-11 Snetterton
Sept 30-Oct 2 Donington Park
October 14-16 Brands Hatch

 

British F1: Santander Salt Racing announces new initiative with FHO Racing

British F1: Santander Salt Racing announces new initiative with FHO Racing

British F1: Santander Salt Racing announces new initiative with FHO Racing

Ellis / Clement

Santander Salt Racing announces new initiative with FHO Racing putting Ellis, Biggs and Nixon in FHO colours. Roger Body with his Santander Salt Racing team has forged a new collaborative agreement with Faye Ho and her FHO Racing Team.

Faye’s prominence in the BSB paddock continues apace announcing that Pirelli Junior Superstock Champion Jack Nixon will step up to ride for the FHO Racing Team in the Pirelli National Superstock class on a BMW M1000RR machine.

The 20-year-old from Folkestone took seven victories and a further five podiums on his way to last year’s title riding the Santander Salt Yamaha R6 courtesy of Roger Body’s Kent-based operation. Alongside his significant commitment to the World and British Sidecar Championships, Roger’s involvement with Jack remains ongoing. He will take an even keener interest in this next level of competition, forging yet another connection with a high-profile Superbike team.

The National Superstock class is arguable the most challenging and strongly disputed in the paddock with a wealth of talented and experienced riders, mixing it with many stars of the future. All are mounted on highly competitive machinery from the top manufacturers. This will be a steep learning curve for Jack Nixon, and he relishes the task ahead.

The collaboration between Faye Ho and Roger Body does not stop there. The distinctive colour scheme and livery of FHO Racing will also adorn the Santander Salt World and British sidecar racing teams.

Faye Ho’s initiative and enthusiasm for promoting women in sport is manifested in the three young women who will wear her colours in the Hel Performance Junior Supersport class, and the Honda British Talent Cup. She has now extended that female portfolio with the inclusion of sidecar star Todd Ellis’s French passenger Emmanuelle Clement, who will once again partner Ellis in their second season together.

Runners-up last year, they are of one single mind as to the goal for 2022. One year later, most of the tracks will now be familiar, the young pairing have their rookie season behind them, and they have high hopes of championship success.

All parties in this new initiative are immensely excited about the year ahead, with Nixon understandably circumspect but realistic.

Jack commented: “Stepping up to the 1000cc class is going to be a steep learning curve for me, but I will use the chance wisely and get as much time on the bike as possible before official testing. It is a massive opportunity with such an important team, and I want to thank Faye Ho for her faith and confidence in me. You can see how much effort and investment she has put in already, and I am really looking forward to being part of that. I also am hugely grateful to Roger Body of Santander Salt for his support right from my early days in the BSB paddock. He has known my family for many years from the sidecar GP days, and that connection has been a fantastic help”.

FHO Team Owner Faye Ho added: “I am really happy to welcome Jack to our line-up for the coming season. I like to give young talent an opportunity and winning the Junior Superstock class last year gave Jack the perfect platform from which to step up and further his career. I am also delighted with the broader association between FHO Racing and Roger Body’s Santander Salt organisation which will allow cooperation across our combined motorsport interests”.

Roger Body expanded on his reasons: “I have always seen links with prominent solo teams in the BSB paddock as important. In recent seasons we have seen several sidecar teams running in BSB team livery enjoying the extra sponsorship and publicity that comes with it. Jack has been under our umbrella for a few years now and there is a strong historic sidecar connection with his family. Faye Ho’s FHO Racing Team provides a golden opportunity for Jack to develop and progress his career, whilst giving us a strong association with a modern and forward-thinking team across all classes. I have no doubt Jack will seize this chance with both hands. This is a really good fit for Santander Salt, and I am delighted”.

**Cancelled** RKB British Sidecar Championship Dinner Dance & Awards Presentation

**Cancelled** RKB British Sidecar Championship Dinner Dance & Awards Presentation

Trophies

RKB British Sidecar Championship
Dinner Dance & Awards Presentation

**Cancelled**

Dear Competitors,

RKB Motorsport announce regretfully that the January 2022 Presentation Evening has been cancelled. Due to the Pandemic Variant, applications understandably so, have fallen far short of expectations and as the event date draws closer, RKB Motorsport had no option but to inform the Bentley Hotel of our decision to cancel.

We are ever grateful for your past participation, and certainly hope this blip in our routine does not affect support going forward. It does of course mean we will have much more to celebrate after the 2022 season, so let’s have a great year and look forward to that.

RKB Motorsport would like to take this opportunity to apologise for any inconvenience caused and thank the teams that have already applied for the Presentation Evening.

Yours in Sport
Glenn “Chalkie” Walsh

British F1: Donington Park joins the party in October as penultimate round

British F1: Donington Park joins the party in October as penultimate round

British F1: Donington Park joins the party in October as penultimate round

Race action at Donington Park

Donington Park has been added to the 2022 schedule making nine rounds in total, with eight of those alongside the Bennetts British Superbike Championship. The Leicestershire circuit is popular with the sidecar teams and always provides great racing.

The inclusion of Donington Park creates an attractive and exciting season for the established star names, as well as several new crews who have signalled their intention to step up and compete in the full series.

Whilst the FIM World Championship dates have still to be finalised and published, every effort is being made to dovetail the two series, with the minimum of clashes.

The nine-round British fixture list is now as follows: –

April 30/May – 2 Oulton Park
June 17-19 – Knockhill
July 22-24 – Brands Hatch
August 5-7 – Cadwell Revival (test day Friday)
August 12-14 – Thruxton
August 27-29 – Cadwell Park
September – 9-11 Snetterton
Sept 30-Oct 2 – Donington Park
October – 14-16 Brands Hatch

The FIM World calendar is in the process of finalisation and will follow imminently.

Photo credits: Jenny “Triker” Wells

British F1: All systems go as 2022 series dates confirmed

British F1: All systems go as 2022 series dates confirmed

British F1: All systems go as 2022 series dates confirmed

Birchalls

The 2022 British Sidecar Championship roars into action with two races at Oulton Park in the traditional opener over the weekend of April 30-May 2nd. This will set the scene for an eight-round series, with the now firmly established Cadwell Park Revival meeting the only exception outside of the Bennetts British Superbike calendar.

Roger Body and his RKB-F1 team have been frantically busy since close of play at Brands Hatch juggling dates for both the British and FIM World Championships, with the sole objective of running meaningful, high-profile rounds and the minimum of clashes. A top priority has been to offer all teams the opportunity to compete in both championships with a real chance of succeeding in both.

George Holden

The wealth of sidecar talent now prominent in the UK ranks means there are possibly ten crews capable of running at the sharp end of world-class competition, and it therefore behoves the UK organisers to maximise the exposure of these teams at that level. The British dates are the first to be set in stone due to the early publication of the BSB calendar, and we can announce those.

Now a long-established and integral part of the Bennetts British Superbike weekend, the sidecars will once again provide huge entertainment for the thousands of three-wheeler fans trackside, whilst enjoying live coverage from Eurosport, whether on the Eurosport App or live TV broadcast (schedules permitting).

Biggs

Due recognition and thanks go to Stuart Higgs and his MSV team for the extra level of cooperation in enabling these dates against a difficult and complex backdrop for 2022. In the meantime, we take this opportunity to wish you and your loved ones a very safe and happy Christmas with a prosperous New Year. Here’s to 2022 !

The eight-round fixture list is as follows –

April 30/May 2 – Oulton Park
June 17-19 – Knockhill
July 22-24 – Brands Hatch
August 5-7 – Cadwell Revival
August 12-14 – Thruxton
August 27-29 – Cadwell Park
September 9-11 – Snetterton
October 14-16 – Brands Hatch

The FIM World calendar is in the process of finalisation and will follow imminently.

Photo credits: Jenny “Triker” Wells

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

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