Round Six – Cadwell Park Battle of Britain – DDMC - Saturday 19th & Sunday 20th August

Tuesday August 29, 2023 at 11:40am
Round Six – Cadwell Park Battle of Britain – DDMC - Saturday 19th & Sunday 20th August

Only a fortnight after a rain-soaked Cadwell Park Sidecar Revival, the A.C.U. / F.S.R.A. British F2 Sidecar Championship made a return visit to the popular Lincolnshire circuit for the penultimate round of the 2023 season in contrasting weather conditions which made for some fast and furious racing throughout the field!

Congratulations go to Pete Founds / Jevan Walmsley (LCR Honda), taking an unprecedented sixth British F2 Sidecar Championship, and to Brian Ilaria / Arlo Brown (DDM Suzuki) who needed a single point to land the F2 Cup title – they achieved this in style with a victory in class in Saturday's opening race.

Free practice saw several outfits return to the paddock sounding slightly “worse for wear” and with only a short turnaround before qualifying got underway, Tony Baker / Leon Fitzpatrick (Baker Suzuki) and wildcard entrants Lee Crawford / Scott Hardie (CES Suzuki) were sidelined from the session as they both were struggling to trace electrical faults.

Founds / Walmsley were in a class of their own in qualifying, finishing the session 2.3s clear of Steve & Matty Ramsden (LCR Honda), whom were looking to consolodate their second place in the standings.

Despite a steady start, Sean Hegarty / James Neave clawed their way up the timesheet to place third, only 0.3s ahead of Daryl Gibson / Rhys Gibbons (CES Suzuki) – these two teams looking the most likely to be disputing third in the end of year championship table.

On the final lap of the session, wild-cards Carl Fenwick / Phil Knapton (Shelbourne Yamaha) moved into fifth at the expense of Ilaria / Brown, with Wayne Lockey / Ben Binns (LCR Honda); Bob Dawson / Matt Sims (LCR Honda); Gary Horspole / Kenny Cole (Baker Suzuki) and James Saunders / Sarah Stokoe (Baker Honda) completing the top ten.

Race one got underway in almost perfect conditions, and as has been seen on several occasions in recent times, the pole sitters Founds / Walmsley didn't get away as quickly as some of the others at the front of the grid, and were passed not only by the Ramsdens, but also Gibson / Gibbons who took the lead into Coppice from row two, and this was still the order at the end of lap one. Making huge progress through the field were Crawford / Hardie, passing seven outfits on the opening circulation, having cured their earlier gremlins.

Unfortunately, the same could not be said for Baker / Fitzpatrick, who had returned to the paddock on the warm-up lap with their problems still clearly evident.

While Founds / Walmsley made their way to the front on lap three, Gibson / Gibbons and the Ramsdens were embroiled in an intriguing battle for second, and were joined by Fenwick / Knapton and Hegarty / Neave.

Meanwhile, Crawford / Hardie were into the top ten, making some firm – but fair – moves as they passed the likes of Dawson / Sims; Horspole / Cole and Lockey / Binns.

Unfortunately wild-cards Mark Hegarty / Rob Child (Shelbourne Honda) were retirements to the paddock on lap four, and they were joined by Charlie Morphet / William Reilly (LCR Honda) and Andrew Bingham / Dave Ryder (Shelbourne Suzuki) shortly thereafter.

Several battles were raging further down the order as the Cup teams disputed places – perhaps the most noteworthy being between Bruce Moore / Amy Dodd (Ireson Honda) and Chris Schofield / Tom Dawkins (Baker Honda), who were constantly in one another’s wheeltracks!

Founds / Walmsley had opened up a good margin of around ten seconds over the Ramsdens who had taken the initiative in the battle for second on lap five, when the leaders had a heart-stopping moment at the top of the Mountain. As Founds / Walmsley crested the peak, the outfit landed at 90degrees to the racing line, somehow, despite taking to the grass the outfit slid sideways and corrected itself, avoiding impact with the barriers and rejoining the circuit without a huge loss of time!

Crawford / Hardie were lapping faster than the outfits ahead of them, and dispatched Fenwick / Knapton on lap seven, and a podium finish was not looking unrealistic. They did indeed catch and pass both Gibson / Gibbons and Hegarty / Neave, but had run out of time to mount a challenge to the Ramsdens.

Founds / Walmsley made no further mistakes to take their tenth win of the season, from the Ramsdens in second with their ninth consecutive podium finish. While Crawford / Hardie took third on the road, the points went to Hegarty / Neave in fourth, holding off Gibson / Gibbons. Fenwick / Knapton were sixth, certainly getting back on pace following a “retirement” of nine years before their comeback in 2023.

Lockey / Binns continued their excellent run, coming home seventh, ahead of Cup winners Ilaria / Brown, taking the title in style – only requiring a single point coming into the race, they took a maximum twenty five! Horspole / Cole were ninth, with Dawson / Sims tenth, taking second in class. The Cup podium was completed by Saunders / Stokoe, with Dave Schofield / Josh Smith (Bellas Yamaha); Moore / Dodd; Schofield / Smith and Paul D'Henin / Gary Wheeler (DDM Suzuki) completing the Cup finishing order.

Sunday afternoon saw a reverse top six grid form with hot sunshine and unbroken skies. The start was something of a ragged affair, with a long hold on the red light. Pole-sitters Fenwick / Knapton were challenged into Coppice by Gibson / Gibbons and Crawford / Hardie, and it was the latter crew who were forced to give way, as Gibson / Gibbons charged into the lead along Park Straight. The Ramsdens and Founds / Walmsley were snapping at the heels of the top three, with Hegarty / Neave; Lockey / Binns; Ilaria / Brown and Horspole / Cole heading the midfield pack at the end of lap one.

Crawford / Hardie began to find a rhythm, taking the lead on lap two, having passed leaders Gibson / Gibbons and Fenwick / Knapton, the latter relegated to fourth with the determined Founds / Walmsley desperate not to lose ground.

Ilaria / Brown were on a charge, in close company with Hegarty / Neave and Lockey / Binns, but there was disappointment for the newly-crowned Cup champions as they retired on lap six, with their motor having dropped onto three cylinders, their only non-finish of the season to date. Other retirements were Baker / Fitzpatrick, despite their machine having undergone repairs overnight, a further problem had manifested itself, and Hegarty / Child too were ruled out at half distance.

Founds / Walmsley made in-roads to Crawford / Hardie, and made their move on lap seven, taking the fastest lap of the race. Meanwhile, Gibson / Gibbons were managing their race well, maintaining a gap of around a second from the Ramsdens. With the retirement of Ilaria / Brown, the battle for the Cup honours was raging between Dawson / Sims and Saunders / Stokoe, who were in particularly close company.

Founds / Walmsley went on to take the win, and the title with a round to spare, while Crawford / Hardie came home second, 10s ahead of Gibson / Gibbons who held off the Ramsdens, who were in turn less than 1.5s ahead of Hegarty / Neave. Fenwick / Knapton finished in a relatively lonely sixth place, but were delighted with their results. Lockey / Binns took seventh to continue their run of 100% reliability and points scoring finishes in 2023, while Horspole / Cole took eighth.

Just 0.1s separated ninth and tenth – and indeed first and second places in the Cup, this going in favour of Dawson / Sims from Saunders / Stokoe. Schofield / Smith completed the podium, boosting their chances of a top three Cup championship finish come the season's end. Moore / Dodd; Schofield / Dawkins and D'Henin and Wheeler rounded out the top six of the F2 Cup.

On behalf of the F.S.R.A., I would – as always – like to express thanks to our series sponsors: The A.C.U. for awarding the official “British Championship” title, along with A.V. Craine & Son; Hegarty Plant Ltd; Pagid Racing (Breitenbach Rennsport); Rowtec Engineering Maintenance; Whitby Cottages and Tingle Windows.

Finally, the F.S.R.A. would like to thank D.D..M.C. and N.E.M.C.R.C. for inviting us to their annual “Battle Of Britain Event”, and to all their dedicated officials, marshals, medics and all the other volunteers involved in running the event. The final round of the series will see teams head “north of the border” to Knockhill, for what is being billed as a “Scottish Sidecar Festival” - with races for British F1 and the “Jock Taylor Trophy” - all eyes however will be on the British F2 Sidecars, where all of the final championship placings will be decided.

Words - Tim Langham (F.S.R.A. Press Officer)

Photographs – Simon Heath

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