The 2018 A.C.U. / F.S.R.A.
British F2 Sidecar Championship
Incorporating The F2 Cup
Round 3 - Mallory Park - E.M.R.A.
Sunday 6th & Monday 7th May
Words - Mark Dennis
Photographs - Dirk Wharton
Bank Holiday weekend 6th / 7th May saw the third round of the A.C.U. / F.S.R.A. British Formula 2 Sidecar Championship at Mallory Park with E.M.R.A the host club in polar opposite weather conditions to the previous weekend at Cadwell Park. With the forecast to be the hottest Early May Bank Holiday on record it would be very tiring for all competitors in the searing heat with two twenty lap races scheduled.
After a morning warm up, twenty-three teams took to the circuit for their ten-minute qualifying session. There were just three teams that stayed out for the duration and taking pole, registering a time on their fourth circulation of the 1.39-mile circuit were championship leaders Founds / Walmsley (DDM Suzuki) with a personal best of 56.006s. In second place on the grid the brothers Lowther (LCR Honda) who achieved a time also on their fourth lap of 56.866s. On row two the pairing of Harrison / Winkle (Bellas Honda) 57.024s and Hegarty / Neave (Baker Honda) 57.139s setting their times on laps three and five respectively. With their best ever qualifying session to date, the first of the F2 Cup teams Morgan / Morgan (LCR Yamaha) in fifth 57.232s and joining them on the third row Ramsden / Ramsden (LCR Honda) 57.543s achieving their times on the fifth qualifying lap. The fourth row of the grid would feature Jackson / Payne (Windle Suzuki) 58.013s and second of the F2 Cup teams Dukes / Moralee (Dynobike Baker) 58.209s. Rounding off the top ten on row five were Baker / Killingsworth (Shelbourne Honda) 58.211s and third of the F2 Cup teams Gibson / Moore (Shelbourne Suzuki) 58.519s. One noticeable team absent from the top ten were Crawford / Hardie who only managed two laps of qualifying before their engine gave way and this would result in them starting on row seven.
The race got underway in temperatures in the high eighties and would prove very challenging for the teams and outfits alike. There was drama as the race was red flagged as one half of Team Janizzi Racing Wilby / Lowther (Shelbourne Honda) took evasive action and crashed at the hairpin causing the outfit to set on fire - thanks to the fast response of orange army the only damage once the bike was cleaned up was a melted pipe.
The race was restarted and now the distance would be fifteen laps.
It was #42 the Lowther brothers overtaking #72 Founds / Walmsley to take the lead and head the field after lap one by one tenth of a second, closely followed by #33 Hegarty / Neave, #99 Ramsden / Ramsden and up to fifth #17 Crawford / Hardie. In sixth #11 Jackson / Payne and leading the F2 Cup, #15 Morgan / Morgan in seventh. In eighth #5 Shand / Claeys pursued by #31 Dukes / Moralee and rounding off the top ten was #10 Baker / Killingsworth. There were three teams that retired before one completed lap: Gibson / Moore; Lumley / Whitnall and D. Schofield / Phillips.
A change of the lead occurred on lap two as Founds / Walmsley overtook the Lowthers and gained a 0.4s advantage. The team of #3 Harrison / Winkle had entered into the top ten at the expense of Baker / Killingsworth and the retirement of Crawford / Hardie.
The top four teams remained the same until the chequered flag with Founds / Walmsley taking the win by just 3.068s ahead of Lowther / Lowther with the final podium spot in the Super F2 class going the way of Hegarty / Neave. The Ramsdens finished fourth with their best result so far this season with Shand / Claeys taking fifth place. Next up in sixth overall and first in the F2 Cup was #95 Remnant / Tilley (Lumley Kawasaki) just 0.5s ahead of the Morgans who took second in class and rounding up the F2 Cup podium were #37 Morphet / Haliburton (LCR). The heat certainly had a bearing on the non- finishers, of which there were nine in total.
The fastest lap of the race was achieved by Founds / Walmsley which was slightly slower than their qualifying time 56.309 registered on lap nine.
There were ten teams from the British F2 and F.S.R.A. Pre Injection classes who volunteered themselves and made their outfits available to give members of the public "taxi rides" at Mallory Park on Sunday, this was a great success and each 'passenger' was given a medal to remember their experience. The F.S.R.A. and E.M.R.A. would like to thank everyone who took part and help raise £1.120.00 for the Chris Meek Medical Centre at Mallory Park.
The grid for race two was a right mix due to the top six from race one being in reverse order and the many non-finishers and fast teams coming from the back, most notably Crawford / Hardie starting on row nine alongside Harrison / Winkle, with Gibson / Moore on row ten.
So onto the race, scheduled once again for twenty laps and would get under way just before 2pm.
Leading the way to the bus stop on lap one was Hegarty / Neave, hot on their tail were Founds / Walmsley; Shand / Claeys; Ramsden / Ramsden; Lowther / Lowther and chasing them all down in sixth Crawford / Hardie on their third engine of the weekend. By this time, Gibson / Moore had moved up to tenth overall and third in class, and had their sights on Remnant / Tilley and Morgan / Morgan, with the Yamaha powered outfit of Morgan /Morgan overtaking Remnant / Tilley at the end of lap one.
At the end of lap two, Founds / Walmsley set the quickest lap with a 56.5s to close the gap on Hegarty / Neave to 0.123s. In the F2 Cup, Gibson / Moore moved up to second relegating Remnant / Tilley back to third. By the end of lap three, Hegarty / Neave held the miniscule of leads over Founds / Walmsley - 0.026s - with Shand / Claeys in third two seconds behind, then to follow were former team mates Lowther / Lowther and Crawford / Hardie who had both overtaken the Ramsdens to lie fourth, fifth and sixth respectively, under three seconds behind the leaders.
By the end of lap four, Founds / Walmsley had managed to get past Hegarty / Neave and open up a margin of almost one second. Setting the fastest lap to date, the Lowthers set a time of 56.458s and in doing so had moved up to third and were 1.7s ahead of the determined Crawford / Hardie in fourth thus relegating Shand/Claeys to fifth. The Lowther brothers took a further tenth off their fastest time to 56.340s on lap five which would prove to be the fastest lap of the race and closing in on Hegarty / Neave to 0.319s.
By the end of lap seven Founds / Walmsley led by 1.2s from Hegarty / Neave, who in turn were 0.561s ahead of Lowther / Lowther and after a couple of mid-56.4s laps Crawford / Hardie had closed the gap in fourth to 0.639s. The team of Harrison / Winkle had moved up to seventh overall from their starting position of seventeenth. The F2 Cup class was even closer with the Morgans just 0.235s ahead of Gibson / Moore although they held a healthy seven second advantage over Remnant / Tilley in third.
At the halfway stage the deficit between first and fourth was down to 1.429s and Harrison / Winkle had moved in to sixth ahead of Ramsden / Ramsden. Between Edwinas and the Hairpin Crawford / Hardie made their move on the Lowthers and were up to third; and by the end of lap eleven were just 1.6s in arrears to the leaders Founds / Walmsley. Rounding the Bus Stop on lap eleven and a race to the start the next lap would see Gibson / Moore move ahead of Morgan / Morgan in the F2 Cup.
Crossing the start line to start lap thirteen Founds was shaking his head at his pit crew! What could be the matter? They still had a lead, albeit reduced to 0.9s back to Hegarty / Neave and even closer were Crawford / Hardie at just 0.232s and they in turn were 0.77s ahead of the Lowthers. On lap thirteen Crawford / Hardie overtook Hegarty / Neave and were chasing down the leaders and had a look at the Hairpin but settled for holding second and as they crossed the line to start lap fourteen the gap was just 0.174s and only a one second gap from first to fourth. This was turning in to a right humdinger! Then the inevitable happened and Crawford / Hardie made their move and drove around the outside of Founds / Walmsley at the Hairpin as the former leaders struggled for grip and further hindered by a broken gear change.
Crawford / Hardie led the pack into the Bus Stop and crossed the line to start lap fifteen leading Founds / Walmsley by 0.358s who in turn were just 0.371s ahead of Hegarty / Neave and just 0.074s in arrears the Lowthers. You could literally chuck a dustbin lid over the four teams, they were that close!
After twenty gruelling laps in extreme heat the worthy winners starting from eighteenth on the grid, the race two winners were Team ARC - Lee Crawford / Scott Hardie 0.581s ahead of Team Founds Peter Founds / Jevan Walmsley and they managed to hold off Hegarty Racing's Sean Hegarty / James Neave to the tune of 0.587s who in turn were just 1.3s ahead of Team Lowther’s John / Jake Lowther. All I can say is that the comments I have seen on social media from the public, photographers and other teams watching that this was the best F2 race they had ever witnessed and it’s been a pleasure reporting on it. I would like congratulate Daryl Gibson / Ashley Moore on their fifth position overall and F2 Cup class win from their starting position of nineteenth. Congratulations also go to Kevin / Steve Morgan on their two second place finishes in the F2 Cup class.Regrettably the heat took it's toll with nine DNF`s.
On behalf of the F.S.R.A. and teams I would like to give thanks to East Midlands Racing Association, Mallory Park, medics and the orange army for a first-class meeting which ran like clockwork.