The weather was perfect for the first round of the 2021 F.S.R.A. / Wintec Racing Pre-Injection Sidecar Championship at Oulton Park on Saturday 24th April. In contrast to previous seasons where F2 machines had dominated the entries, a combination of new and returning teams registered with F1 outfits had swelled their ranks.
Most teams had taken advantage of the Friday practice sessions, but after the timed qualifying on Saturday morning, many competitors were still fixing problems with their outfits. Previous F2 winner Rob Fisher’s Baker Thundercat was fine, but passenger Rick Long was struggling and the pair pulled out of the qualifying after setting the fastest lap at a fraction over 2 minutes. Second on the grid were Simon Horton / Jordon Forrest (1200 Wintec Suzuki), followed by Joe Heys / Gary Wheeler (1200 Heys Kawasaki); Liam & James Saunders (600 Ireson Yamaha); John Shipley / Milo Ward (1000 Ireson Yamaha); Bob Dawson / Sarah Hulme (600 Derbyshire Yamaha); Mark Burns / Steve Winfrow (900 Baker Honda); Steve Brooks / Ben Stell (600 GLR Honda); Dave Tibbles / Raitch Greenwood (1100 FJ Yamaha); Dave Crawford / Dave Baxter (1200 Shelbourne Yamaha); Wesley Pettman / Rian Saunders (600 Windle Yamaha); Martin Best / John Slater (1127 Shelbourne Suzuki); Alan Longshaw / Derek Salleh (600 Ireson Yamaha); with Steve Alexander / Amanda Mason (1000 Broadstock Kawasaki) bringing up the rear. A nasty engine noise for the latter pairing meant the end of their day, which was disappointing after a Friday spent changing engines.
Experienced passenger Sarah Stokoe hopped on the side of Fisher’s outfit and the partnership worked well producing a clean sweep of wins in both races. Horton / Forrest initially got away in second place but a snapped throttle cable saw them retire after two laps, leaving Heys / Wheeler to take the runner-up honours. A fuelling issue saw Longshaw / Salleh retire on lap 2, while Best / Slater pulled out after 4 laps. Third in the race, and runners up in the F2 class, were the Saunders brothers, these newcomers sporting their orange jackets, less than a second ahead of the 2018 F1 champions Shipley / Ward. There then followed a modest gap to the trio of Burns / Winfrow, Dawson / Hulme and Tibbles / Greenwood, finishing in that order following a race-long battle. Brooks / Stell took fourth place in the F2 class, and ninth overall, comfortably ahead of Pettman / Saunders.
There was drama for Burns / Winfrow at the start of race two, as they stalled on the line, and set about catching the rest of the field. Having fixed their earlier problem, Horton / Forrest had a good run to stay just ahead of Shipley / Ward (who was closely followed home by his father in the Wirral 100 Open Class sidecars!) Early F1 leaders Heys / Wheeler eventually took third place in the class and fourth overall. Similar positions to those in the opening encounter saw the Saunders finish as the second F2, and fifth overall. Dawson / Hulme were the third F2, sixth overall. Crawford / Baxter took fourth in the F1 class and seventh overall, closely followed by Tibbles / Greenwood fifth in class, with Burns / Winfrow the sixth and final F1 team. Pettman / Saunders took fourth in the F2 class, ahead of Longshaw / Salleh.
Report by Marianne Walford
Photographs by Ste McNorton