British F1: Windy Snetterton shows the very best of British
Round two at Snetterton attracted the absolute cream of Britain’s sidecar talent, and that was borne out by the action on track. An added challenge came in the shape of storm Ellen which brought gale-force winds howling around throughout Friday and Saturday.
Despite the difficult conditions, qualifying resulted in pole position going to the existing 600cc lap record holders Todd Ellis and Charlie Richardson.
They were close to their own lap record speed on their Santander Salt Honda to claim the place ahead of current and eight times World Champion Tim Reeves/Kevin Rousseau.
Series leaders Steve Kershaw and Ryan Charlwood sat on row two alongside a delighted Ricky Stevens/Jonny Allum, who missed the Cadwell Park opener.
1/ Todd Ellis/Charlie Richardson (Santander Salt GBR Honda)
2/ Tim Reeves/Kevin Rousseau (Bonovo Action RS1 Yamaha)
3/ Steve Kershaw/Ryan Charlwood (Santander Salt/Quattro Yamaha)
4/ Ricky Stevens/Jonny Allum (WPS Kawasaki)
5/ Sam Christie/Adam Christie (CES Yamaha)
6/ Lewis Blackstock/Paddy Rosney SBR Yamaha).
Race One –
The announcement that Tim Reeves had registered as a permanent member of the series gave added impetus and spice to what happened next. From pole position, Ellis and Richardson took the lead into Riches, with Kershaw/Charlwood making a serious play to pass Reeves/Rousseau up the hill to Riches bend. The World Champion held second, with Stevens/Allum dropping into fourth behind Kershaw.
Next came Lewis Blackstock and Paddy Rosney chased hard by Sam and Adam Christie, from John Holden and Andy Peach.
The battle at the front raged for two laps with all three outfits ducking and diving to gain the advantage. Tim Reeves took his chance at turn two and swept through under braking to relegate Ellis. Kershaw and Charlwood kept a watching brief as the cat and mouse game unfolded at the front. On lap six, with his Honda absolutely flying, Ellis dived through to reclaim the lead setting a new lap record in the process, only for Reeves to get alongside moments later. The speed of Ellis’s CBR 600 was every bit as impressive as the Yamaha of the World Champion and that can be solely attributed to Gary Bryan’s preparation skills. They set a new record on this astonishing lap as they once again headed the pack.
Reeves was having none of however and made a clean move into turn one on the inside line. Todd Ellis and Charlie Richardson were not about to back off and kept it nailed, spinning out as a result. The outfit was upended without injury to either man, but out came the red flag signalling a result at the completion of five laps.
Kershaw’s patience was rewarded with second place and a thrilled Ricky Stevens gave new passenger Jonny Allum his first British Championship podium.
The Christie brothers had much earlier overcome Blackstock and Rosney to claim fourth at the flag. Ben and Tom Birchall were once again out on the short chassis F2 bike which was outmatched for corner speed but rewarding for them in terms of a seventh-place finish and development lessons learned.
Race Result –
Race Two –
The reversed grid rule always makes life interesting, and Kevin Cable/Kyle Masters, from pole position ran very well for the opening lap with Phil Bell and Andy Peach also getting good starts. The Birchall brothers were well in the mix into turn two, as the faster men from rows four (Kershaw), five (Reeves) and seven (Ellis) began to force through.
Sam and Adam Christie were again strong, and led on lap two, with Tim Reeves already up to second place. Todd Ellis had gone with him, and a dramatic move by Reeves on the Christies at the end of that lap saw both Reeves and Ellis shoot through to resume battle at the front.
Steve Kershaw/Ryan Charlwood fared less well, and after a torrid five laps fighting through, retired with gremlins. Such was their championship lead however, they stayed top of the table at the close of play.
The scrap at the front was one of the best sidecar races we have seen for a long while, with the young pretender locking horns with the best in the world and showing his class.
Reeves led for four laps until lap seven when Ellis made a stunning pass, setting another lap record on his way Ricky Stevens and Ryan Charlwood also made excellent progress and with two laps remaining, clinched the final podium spot from the Christie brothers.
But the last and final lap must go down in history as one of the most dramatic. Tim Reeves regained the lead at his favourite place and then it was game on all the way to the flag. The two outfits were neck and neck, ducking and diving, bobbing and weaving bend after bend, with the World Champion emerging successful, but fully aware he had almost met his match.
Mention must be made of a great ride through to seventh place for newcomers Tommy Philp and Tom Bryant from the back of the grid. Ben and Tom Birchall had another sound ride on the short bike, finishing sixth behind ever consistent John Holden and Jake Lowther.
Race Result –
9/ Bell Connell
The next round comes from the Knockhill circuit 19/20 September.