RKB-F1 Sidecar Racing plans under constant review in the face of Coronavirus pandemic
One month down the road from our last update, the global Coronavirus situation is still wreaking havoc in the sporting world.
We, the sidecar racing fraternity are every bit as much affected as all other branches on motor sport, and indeed any event where people congregate in large numbers.
Much of the world, and almost every single European country has been locked down since early March in an effort to stop the spread of the disease, and restore some normality to our daily lives.
There are however, green shoots of hope and improvement showing in some of those countries who were either quick to respond initially, or now think the worst is behind them.
But, there can be no illusion that the road back to complete normality will be a long one, and there is no “silver bullet” or miracle cure for what we are going through. Until a vaccine against this silent assassin is developed and made widely available, the social distancing measures, and prohibition of large gatherings will be maintained. That fact alone casts a long shadow over plans for any sporting events involving spectators.
We within RKB-F1 are in almost daily contact with our eager organisers and circuit owners to bring you the planned schedule for both British and FIM Worlds rounds in 2020. But, until all countries publish their plans for emergence out of this crisis, any firm commitments are impossible to make. 2020 is still a season which promised much for all of us, and it is a cruel twist of fate which has robbed us thus far of any racing.
But this is a situation reaching far beyond our world of sidecar racing. Many lives have been lost, and will continue to be lost until this virus can be brought under control. The world is at a standstill, and we can only hope and pray, that normality, albeit a new form of normality, will be restored soon.
We are intent on delivering two forms of Championships for this year, and those efforts are being tirelessly pursued by the RKB-F1 team.
In the meantime, we are certainly in good shape for 2021, as we have developed good relationships with our new overseas circuit partners, and our contact with MSVR and the BSB world is now well and truly cemented.
Please rest assured we will bring you any firm news once we have it, but in the meantime, stay safe and keep smiling. We WILL be back at the very earliest opportunity.
Seeking a Press, Media and TV person
Whilst we are all in this suspended state, with not very much happening on the surface, it does not mean the feet are not paddling away below.
We at RKB-F1 Motorsport are hard at it planning what hopefully will turn out to be the season we all want. Given we now have 2 Championships running in parallel – The UK and World, we are looking to expand the team on the ground on race weekends, particularly in the area of PR, Social Media and TV.
Ideally we see the person filling this part-time role as a graduate, or a young person wishing to gain experience in the world of marketing and PR with a view to progressing in the field of sport journalism, television or similar.
We currently have TV footage edited and produced for our own website and YouTube channel, whilst the World Championship has a bespoke highlights package produced by the FIM. We are also considering taking interviews and video snapshots at both series, to edit into those shows.
This is an opportunity for a keen graduate or young person to be exposed to the world of motor sport media, and to learn from our already experienced personnel some of the tricks of the trade. More than anything initially, it needs to be considered as work experience, with a view to moving ahead as things develop.
If you feel this is something you would like to become involved in, and are interested in exploring this further, please make contact in the first instance with email@example.com by sending a current CV along with a covering letter.
We look forward to hearing from you!
The RKB-F1 Motorsport Team
British F1: Statement regarding COVID-19 and the Molson Group British Sidecar Championship
Statement regarding COVID-19 and the Molson Group British Sidecar Championship
Following unprecedented measures announced by the Government this week in efforts to combat the Coronavirus pandemic, and the subsequent action taken by MSVR announced yesterday, the ban on UK track racing is confirmed until at least May 31st.
That means the opening two rounds of our championship due to take place at Oulton Park (May 1-3rd) and Donington Park (May 22-24th) will now be postponed, hopefully to reschedule at a later date.
RKB-F1 Motorsport is working closely with MSVR and all involved parties to ensure we keep you advised at the earliest opportunity of developments as they unfold.
Clearly this situation is a constantly changing picture, and is under daily review. Rest assured it is our intention to get both our British and World series underway as soon as is humanly possible.
Meanwhile, we continue to wish all our teams and supporters the very best of health at this difficult time, and urge you all to follow the guidelines passed to every one of us.
Uncertain times ahead maybe – but we’re all ready and waiting
There can be no denying that what the world is going through with the Coronavirus pandemic right now, is something none of us has ever lived through before.
We have all heard our parents and grandparents waxing lyrical about the hardships that “The War” brought to their daily lives. Indeed Uncle Albert from Only Fools and Horses coined the phrase “durin’ the war” to the constant annoyance of Rodney and Del Boy.
The unprecedented changes and restrictions being imposed on us are hard to take, but we all understand the reasons why.
We have hitherto lived our lives in our own bubble of protected and precious existence whatever form that might take, and for those of us in this great circle of sidecar racing, it is a special bubble.
We have seen the unimaginable happen in the sporting world with Premier League and International football matches cancelled or postponed indefinitely. The mighty Formula One, MotoGP, the Isle of Man TT and World Superbike, along with all other major sporting events where large crowds gather, have all been put on the back burner until goodness knows when.
The British Superbike Championship, with whom we run our series, will make those decisions on our behalf, and theirs is not an easy task. Stuart Higgs and his team have tough calls to make over the next few weeks, and we can only watch and wait.
I am, and always have been, a purveyor of joy and hope – ever the optimist, and I would like to say to you right now that if you sit tight for a couple of weeks, it will be business as usual. But the bottom line is that we simply do not know when this will end, so we must stay ready, remain positive and aim for the golden moment when the wheels turn again in anger.
We’re all dressed up, raring to go, and the party has yet to start – but it will. We have championships to fight for, both British and World, and we have the third running of the absolutely brilliant Cadwell Sidecar Revival to look forward to. The anticipation will only get stronger, and when we return to action – what fantastic action it will be.
Stay strong everyone, stay positive and keep out of trouble, but above all, follow the common sense Government guidelines, and we will all be together on the grid once restrictions are lifted.
Meanwhile, keep polishing and dreaming.
The RKB-F1 team wishes you all the very best through this difficult time.
British F1: 2020 Season almost ready for blast-off
It has been a long, wet winter, but the wait is almost over. Before the teams assemble at the Oulton Park Circuit in Cheshire for the opening round, most of them will have spent an exhausting off-season building new machinery, and many will also have taken the annual pilgrimage to Val de Vienne for pre-season testing.
The registered number of teams for the series at the time of going to press, sits at twenty-five, with virtually all of those indicating a full season. Add to those numbers any late entries, and the inevitable wild-cards from overseas, and it is a very promising line-up for British Championship honours.
Whilst reigning World Champions Tim Reeves and Mark Wilkes once again are placing sole focus on the FIM World Championship, now also promoted by RKB-F1, the former World Champions and multiple TT winners Ben and Tom Birchall have announced their intention to stay here in the UK to concentrate on their LCR chassis business, the Isle of Man TT, and the Molson Group series.
This is good news for British fans, and will give the Mansfield based brothers a real chance to lift the title with consistent UK appearances. Apart from 600cc Cup success in 2016, the British premier sidecar championship has hitherto not been high on their list or priorities.
The increased profile of sidecar racing in the UK, and the wide exposure given by the live Eurosport TV coverage, has resulted in a far greater sense of achievement and reward for those crews who aspire to be champions.
There is however, an ever-increasing number of crews lining up to claim the prize. Among them, the Santander Salt sponsored outfits of reigning champions Todd Ellis and Charlie Richardson, and 2018 champion Steve Kershaw, who is breaking in a new passenger in the shape of the very enthusiastic and capable Jason Pitt. Both these teams will be combining the domestic challenge with a full onslaught for FIM World honours.
The same is true of the Silicone Barnes Racing outfits of John Holden/Jake Lowther and Lewis Blackstock/Paddy Rosney. The distinctive blue and white livery of these crews was omni- present at the sharp end of the British Championship last season, so expect nothing less in 2020.
A second consecutive season following a year out with injury is very much on the cards for Chris Walker and Ashley Hawes. The TAG Racing Yamaha duo were really in the groove at the end of last year, and Chris is hungry for victory. The former Superbike and solo star has yet to climb to the top step of the podium, but the signs are all there that 2020 could be the year that happens. Walker and Hawes will also be targeting selected World rounds, so the British presence on the FIM stage will be a strong one.
Former double champions Ricky Stevens and Ryan Charlwood have ended any speculation about their future together, by once again lining up in Kawasaki colours as part of the Massingberd Mundy official Green Team. They are keen to reclaim the titles they won on the 1000cc bike, being strong advocates of the successful move to 600cc power. Expect also to see them doubling up with World Championship rides where they see fit. Team-mate is once again Ben Holland, who this year is joined by Jed Pilmoor-Brady. A former regular at the front, Ben has lost none of his speed, and shows a real passion to get back in the winning groove.
Young talent comes in the form of Tommy Philp, now partnered with Tom Bryant. Sponsored by Roberts Construction and Tops Autos, the Yamaha pair showed their worth as newcomers towards the end of last season, and will almost definitely be among the front runners from the word go this year.
Rob Biggs and Jeroen Schmitz are another young pairing with huge potential, and are now well accustomed to each other and the Taurus Tools outfit, although they are now favouring Yamaha power over the tried and trusted Honda CBR 600.
There is now strength in depth all down the field with a strong blend of experience and youthful talent. Thirty crews on most grids will indeed be a spectacle, and as the final plans are put in place for the new season, it is truly a mouth-watering prospect lying ahead of us.
We will be previewing the opening round at Oulton Park shortly, and updating you with any last- minute changes and rider additions.
Meanwhile, work goes on behind the scenes to fine-tune and tweak what will undeniably be a stellar year for sidecar racing both here and on the world stage.
British F1: Double header at traditional Oulton Park opener
Church regulations dictate reduced noise on Sunday, so it has always been hard to fit two sidecar races into the busy schedule.
However, the sidecars continue to build their reputation with the BSB organisers, and we have been able to negotiate two races, thereby giving the many track-side sidecar enthusiasts two bites of the cherry.
The two races will take place on Saturday however, with practice and qualifying on Friday. Given that Eurosport TV now give full attention to the entire weekend, it is therefore highly likely that both races will attract TV coverage.
This is a new departure, great news for the teams and the Championship, and is one more example of the close relationship between MSV and RKB-F1 Motorsport.
All teams are reminded that registration needs to be by the end of February, and there are still many crews yet to sign up for 2020.
They will need to contact Mike Dommett firstname.lastname@example.org as a matter of urgency of they wish to be on the grid at Oulton Park.
British F1: British Championship awards presented in Lincoln
The Best Western Bentley Hotel between Newark and Lincoln provided a good setting once again, and excellent refreshments for what turned out to be an really good evening, voted by many as the best yet.
Celebrity guests included multiple TT winner and all-round hero John McGuinness, jovial and regular participant Steve Parrish, and our newly crowned, and now seven-times world sidecar champion Tim Reeves.
A packed room, a three-course meal, great sounding disco music, and a live band – The Bradeney Bunch from Shropshire, all contributed to a fun evening ahead of what is bound to be a fiercely contested 2020 season.
Master of ceremonies Glenn “Chalkie” Walsh opened the proceedings assisted by MC and TV commentator Barry Nutley.
Steve Parrish and John McGuinness then presented the awards to the glowing recipients, and proceeded to have a short interview and chat session. Finally series owner and main sponsor Roger Body rounded off the formalities with an exciting introduction of the new-look FIM World Championship, which he has been working on for many months. His effort and enthusiasm was acknowledged, and a huge round of applause from the room endorsed that.
The awards themselves went to proud recipients, with the Lewis Blackstock and Paddy Rosney scooping not only the third place trophies, but also the gold award for team presence in the paddock under the Barnes Racing Silicone Engineering banner.
Spectators choice award went to the fan’s favourite Chris “The Stalker” Walker, who along with Ashley Hawes had a great season with the TAG Racing/Santander Salt Yamaha.
Passenger of the Year was an extremely plucky Shelley Smithies, who after her big crash at Cadwell Park, bounced back in style with a strong year alongside Martin Kirk for a top ten finish.
For services to the sport, and an outstanding contribution to both the series and the Quattro Plant Kawasaki team, Vicky Rowsell of Somrow Construction Services was acknowledged to great applause as she collected the silver trophy.
Outgoing champions and runners-up Steve Kershaw and Stuart Clark accepted their award in traditional highland dress, and announced the retirement of Stuart, and welcomed his replacement, a young and eager Jason Pitt. The huge main trophy, and the ultimate accolade was collected by the new champions Todd Ellis and Charlie Richardson after a stunning year which delivered eleven victories.
All eyes are now on the 2020 season, as Roger Body announced his World Championship plans, with eight rounds scheduled, and only one clash. Many of the top crews from Britain are keen to enter, so this is an exciting development.
British F1: British Championship Calendar 2020 announced
Roger Body and his RKB-F1 organisation has now also embraced the FIM World Championship as promoter, thereby ensuring date clashes are kept to a minimum.
In fact, at the time of going to press, there are just two conflicting dates, with a distinct possibility of reducing this to just one. Exhaustive efforts have gone into making this possible, with some exciting new venues included in that process.
This is an exciting development for those British Championship regulars who aspire to try their luck on the World stage. It also gives the opportunity for FIM series crews to attend the odd British round if they so feel.
Nine rounds are now scheduled for the British Championship, with a further eight currently being finalised for the FIM world series. There will be an announcement in the coming days as to the FIM calendar.
The British season kicks off in Cheshire, with the usual single race on the Oulton Park schedule. Limited track permission always compresses this event, but it is a great series opener on a traditional circuit. Then it’s on to Snetterton, before the long trek to Knockhill for round three.
The first of two visits to Brands Hatch is next up, followed two weeks later by the now well established Cadwell Sidecar Revival. This is the only stand-alone event, and takes place just two weeks before the BSB paddock descends on the Cadwell track for round six of the Molson Championship.
Assen and the Cathedral of Speed comes next, before a trip to Donington Park, and the Grand Finale back in Kent at Brands Hatch.
2020 promises to be a stellar season, with the sport of sidecar racing now looming large in the eye of the public, the TV viewers, and the countless thousands of track-side enthusiasts.
British F1: Molson Group British Championship awards evening
Tickets are selling fast, but a number of high profile teams still have to submit their table requirements. This is by way of a gentle reminder to make sure you are there on what will be a great evening, to see our successful crews presented with their trophies.
Food and entertainment will be to the usual high standard, with dancing to “The Bradeney Bunch” and the usual disco until late.
We also have a couple of celebrity guests lined up to regale us with tales of daring and doing from the world of racing.
The evening is not strictly for teams and crews, the evening is open to all-comers, so if there is space available, then anyone is welcome to join in the fun.
Please contact Glenn Walsh by text, or by calling him on 07801 681233 for tickets and any other queries.
British F1: Ellis and Richardson crowned Champions at Brands Hatch in brilliant finale
Qualifying – Late on Friday afternoon, under leaden skies, the serious business got underway. Twenty-two outfits from the thirty registered took to the track for the twenty minute session, with track conditions less than ideal.
Even so, the championship leaders Todd Ellis and Chaz Richardson set the early pace two seconds off lap record speed, with the two SBR machines of Blackstock/Rosney and Holden/Cain close on their heels. With two minutes left in the session, Chris Walker and Ashley Hawes put the TAG Yamaha third, ahead of Ben Holland/Lee Watson (JG Speedfit/Quattro Plant Kawasaki). Steve Kershaw and Stuart Clark completed only four laps before spending the rest of the session in trouble with a rear wheel puncture, and eventually in pit-lane. They would start from row six. Pole position it was then for the series leaders on the Santander Salt Honda, from Holden/Cain and Walker heading up row two alongside Ben Holland.
Race one – Lunchtime on Saturday and sunny weather gave the perfect platform for the penultimate race, with defending champions Kershaw/Clark chasing a thirty-point deficit from row six. This was a ten-lap race with plenty of time for the Molson/Express Tyres Yamaha to make it through the field.
From the lights the pole men Ellis and Richardson streaked into a lead they were never to surrender. Double points meant they were on target for a fifty-point maximum, and that is exactly what they did. Further back, Kershaw and Clark had their work cut out to make headway, but they gained three places on lap one, before getting stuck in with typically grim determination.
In general terms, they passed one crew each lap, moving second on lap eight, with a seven-second deficit from the race leaders. Meanwhile, as Kershaw made his way through, there was a thrilling battle between John Holden/Lee Cain, Chris Walker/Ashley Hawes, and Lewis Blackstock/Paddy Rosney. These three outfits scrapped tooth and nail, making life hard for the defending champion’s fight through the field.
Another outstanding ride by newcomers Tommy Philp and Tom Bryant saw them take the Brian Gray Powerbiking Yamaha to sixth place ahead of two Honda CBR600’s ridden by Rob Biggs/Jeroen Schmitz and legendary Honda engine builder Gary Bryan/Phil Hyde.
All three Honda outfits, including the eleven times race winners Ellis/Richardson’s are prepared by Bryan, and his record for reliability is second to none.
Kershaw and Clark’s fight through the field to second place kept the title chase alive until the very final race albeit with a twenty-point margin.
Race One Result – 1/ Ellis/Richardson (Santander Salt Honda), 2/ Kershaw/Clark (Molson/Express Tyres Yamaha), 3/ Holden/Cain (SBR Kawasaki), 4/ Blackstock/Rosney (SBR Yamaha), 5/ Walker/Hawes (TAG Racing Yamaha), 6/ Philp/Bryant (Brian Gray Powerbiking Yamaha), 7/ Biggs/Schmitz (Taurus Tools Honda), 8/ Bryan/Hyde (GBR Honda), 9/ Gray/Pitt (Brian Gray Yamaha), 10/ Crowe/Crowe (Northern Fuel Yamaha).
Race Two – Steve Kershaw and Stuart Clark could have done no more than they actually did in the final race of the season. With the reverse grid in place, both they and Ellis Richardson were down on row five, with it all to do.
Ryan and Callum Crowe (Northern Fuels Yamaha), making a rare appearance, sat pole, and got a flying start as a result. They were trailed by first Gary Bryan and Phil Hyde, then Tommy Philp and Tom Bryant, but not for long. The newcomers to the series have already shown an incredible turn of speed, and they did it again. This time, the Brian Gray Powerbiking Yamaha of Philp/Bryant fought at the front throughout, and they were rewarded with an amazing podium for their efforts.
Such was the pace at the front, that the two championship contenders had real problems fighting through. Rob Biggs/Jeroen Schmitz were in the thick of the action as always, locked in this top six scrap.
Chris Walker and Ashley Hawes renewed their fight with Lewis Blackstock and Paddy Rosney, with SBR Kawasaki’s John Holden/Lee Cain making good progress behind them. They were eventually to bring their matching outfits home line astern in that order. Bit by bit, the Crowe brothers slipped back, but did not give in easily, making it to a fine sixth place in exalted company. The Hudspeth Flooring assisted pair did very well on the big stage, and should show their skills more often in this series.
Kershaw and Ellis were line astern fighting through, eventually muscling to the front, although Tommy Philp was a hard nut to crack.
Chris Walker was destined to move into a strong final position, but the cruellest of luck saw the TAG Racing Yamaha out on the final lap with clutch trouble. Walker and Hawes had more than shown what they are capable of, so roll on next season for them.
Gary Bryan and Phil Hyde, after a bit of contact, ended up in ninth, but as already said, Bryan has the distinction of preparing the engines of the three Honda CBR’s in the top six overall. Rob Biggs and Jeroen Schmitz on one of those Honda’s, can be justly proud of their season, with fast and consistent results.
There were however, only two crews who had an unblemished season. Ellis and Richardson lifted the title with eleven victories and points every round, whilst Kevin Cable and Kyle Masters also had a flawless campaign, scoring every single round and winding up in twelfth place for their efforts. On the down-side, it must have been the saddest of days for the Stalker Walker, who actually was headed for fourth overall before the clutch gremlins struck.
Kershaw was magnanimous in defeat, and is now focussed on 2020, when he, along with Ellis and others, plans to target a world championship campaign, also returning to try to reclaim his British Crown.
Race Two Results – 1/ Kershaw/Clark, 2/ Ellis/Richardson, 3/ Philp/Bryant, 4/ Blackstock/Rosney, 5/ Holden/Cain, 6/ Crowe/Crowe, 7/ Biggs/Schmitz, 8/ Gray/Pitt, 9/ Bryan/Hyde, 10/ Peach/Edwards
Standings – Ellis/Richardson (Champions) 476, Kershaw/Clark 446, Blackstock/Rosney 236, Holden/Cain 197, Bryan/Hyde 190, Biggs/Schmitz 186, Walker/Hawes 172, Stevens/Charlwood 155, Gray/Pitt 147, Kirk/Smithies 110, Peach/Edwards 108, Cable/Masters 104.
Video Highlights of this round will appear shortly on www.rkb-f1-sidecars.com
British F1: Santander Salt Team-mates go head-to-head in Brands Hatch Finale
Once the visors go down and the race-face is on, it all about the title.
The two Santander Salt outfits of defending Champions Steve Kershaw/Stuart Clark and current series leaders Todd Ellis/Chaz Richardson are just thirty points apart, after slogging it out all season, taking eighteen of the possible nineteen wins between them.
The only other crew with a victory are Ben and Tom Birchall, who are defending their World Title in Portugal the same weekend.
With the traditional double points on offer at this the final round, a potential fifty for each race is there for the taking. You can expect fireworks from the word go, especially in the second race with its “reverse grid” formation.
There is also much to play for at Brands behind the top two, with another very close situation splitting the next six crews.
Lewis Blackstock and Paddy Rosney sit third at the moment on the Barnes Racing/Silicone Engineering Yamaha, twenty-four points clear of Gary Bryan/Phil Hyde (GBR Honda).
They in turn are really under pressure from Ricky Stevens/Ryan Charlwood (JG Speedfit Quattro Plant Kawasaki), Chris Walker/Ashley Hawes (TAG Racing Yamaha) and Rob Biggs/Jeroen Schmitz (Taurus Tools Honda).
In actual fact, fourth place, or even third, is there for the taking by any of these crews, and the double points available will also dramatically spice up the action.
John Holden and Lee Cain have really hit form late in the season, and their SBR Kawasaki will be very much on song. They were flying last time out at Donington Park and are on the back of that chasing group.
This season has been a stellar one, but there is no doubting the fresh young talent emerging, with Todd Ellis riding at world class speed at the head, and Tommy Philp coming up from club racing to slot in the top ten with impunity.
Sidecar racing is going through a transformation, and evolving all the time. The current 600cc rule has generated some of the closest racing seen in the last twenty years.
With nearly thirty outfits registered to compete at Brands, you can expect a true spectacle of colour and action into Paddock Hill Bend off the start. Will they all get round Druids? Well that is another story altogether. One thing is for sure, If you enjoy your sidecar racing, Brands Hatch is the place to be over that weekend.