The weather turned nasty as we drove into the paddock on Friday for the fifth running of the Cadwell Park Sidecar Revival with more torrential rain forecast for Saturday. That did not detract from the strong entry, despite other events taking place the same weekend.
The good news for the GP class entrants was that series leaders Todd Ellis/Emmanuelle Clement were in Austria fighting for World honours, as were second in the title chase Sam and Tom Christie. Hannafin teammates Rupert Archer/Adam Christie along with L&W Contractor’s Kevin Cable/Chaz Richardson were also chasing the same dream.
Former champions Steve Kershaw and Ryan Charlwood were the final high-profile defectors, but they had not entirely committed to the British series anyway. That left the door wide open for Lewis Blackstock/Paddy Rosney DHR/Express Tyre Services Yamaha to gain big points, thus elevating them from third place in the standings. That they did with aplomb. Opportunity also beckoned for George Holden/Oscar Lawrence, and Craig Currie/Justin Sharp who arrived at Cadwell in fourth and fifth places.
The F1 Cup class was going to be very tight, with the top three split but just four points, with leaders Simon Robinson/Mick Fairhurst looking over their shoulders. Sole F2 exponents Pete Founds/Jevan Walmsley were bound to stamp their mark on that class.
With Blackstock, Williams, Holden and Crawford having put their marks on the early free practice session, it remained to be seen if they could replicate that feat in qualifying. Mercifully the rain had abated somewhat ahead of the twenty-minute session, but wet tyres were still the order of the day.
It was clear from the word go that Blackstock would have a fight on his hands, with the opening challenge coming from cup runners Luke Williams and Jason Pitt. The GP Yamaha of Blackstock/Rosney made amends one lap later, going provisional pole on a slightly drier track.
Half-way through, Pete Founds and Jevan Walmsley had the F2 bike fourth fastest behind Lee Crawford/Scott Hardie and ahead of Paul and Tom Kirby.
With five minutes left, Lee Crawford jumped to second, using his spare engine after blowing one earlier, forcing Blackstock to improve. He did not this time out, but still held pole, just as George Holden/Oscar Lawrence went third with one final lap left.
Row one would be Blackstock/Rosney and Crawford/Hardie, ahead of Holden/Lawrence and Williams/Pitt on row two, and Currie/Sharp sharing row three with Founds/Walmsley.
From pole position, Blackstock/Rosney shot away, opening an immediate lead into Coppice which they were to build upon as the race unfolded. Behind them a spirited charge by Crawford/Hardie got them firmly in second place, with Luke Williams/Jason Pitt fighting with F2 stars Pete Founds/Jevan Walmsley.
The Honda of Founds was every bit as fast as the long bikes, but he lost ground as he made a mistake exiting Barn Corner, allowing Williams to edge by. Crawford went out on lap five with what looked like gearbox problems, so Williams then had a clear run.
In a good fourth place, George Holden/Oscar Lawrence were the best of the rest, opening a gap to ride a solitary race to the flag. Eighteen points were a good haul, but they need to find more to get with the top three in the standings. Further back, Phil Bell/Phil Hyde were having very strong ride in adverse conditions, eventually making fifth place their own, followed by Paul and Tom Kirby in an excellent sixth. Clarke and Ensor had their Honda on song, running well in the leading bunch, then lost around twenty seconds on lap six, to finish eighth ahead of the Laidlow brothers.
After a mid-pack battle around seventh or eighth place, Craig Currie jettisoned his passenger Justin Sharp on the exit from the chicane on lap eleven of twelve, this ending a good potential score. He admitted to having to fight the machine all race- long.
Eleventh in the race, but third best GP class team, got Martin Kirk and Kyle Masters onto the podium and further up the standings. This gave them a good basis for what was to be an even better result later in the day. It was a good weekend for them.
Blackstock’s score moved him ahead of the absent Christie brothers in the standings, with two races more to come.
The sun was out for this one, but as it turned out, not forever! Blackstock/Rosney once again hit the front, looking a class act throughout, to take lights to flag victory. That was an impressive feat, but lots of attention focussed on the scrap for third place as Holden/Lawrence closed on fast-starting Williams/Pitt, moving ahead on lap four into second place. Behind them, a strong battle was emerging with Bell/Hyde, Currie/Sharp, Kirby/Kirby as the GP class Honda of Currie fought its way into third place in the main class, behind Holden/Lawrence. The Kawasaki pair had their season-best result to date with runner-up spot.
Just as the race was settling into an interesting stage, with Holden intent on catching Blackstock, down came the rain and a resulting red flag after six laps completed. Not, however, before Charlie Moss had lost Adam Geddes from the sidecar when he got it sideways.
A result was declared, and half points awarded, with Blackstock/Rosney coming tantalisingly close to the head of the standings, and Phil Bell extending his Cup lead.
Again, the weather was kind as Blackstock/Rosney shot from the line, opening a gap before Coppice. Such was their electrifying start, that officials deemed it a jump start, penalising the #95 bike ten seconds, dropping them to sixth place after lap one on the timing screens, whilst leading on the road.
This added huge drama as the race unfolded as George Holden/Oscar Lawrence bettered Luke Williams/Jason Pitt to lead the race mathematically.
They were to maintain this great pace following Blackstock home and enhancing their title chase into third ahead of the absent Christie brothers.
Founds/Walmsley had joined the race from the back of the grid and were making great strides through the field until they expired on lap nine, keeping their score for the weekend to a minimum.
Mid-pack the scraps were going on, with Bell/Hyde again showing a strong performance behind the leading trio of Blackstock, Holden and Williams.
The triple Cup winners Williams/Pitt jumped to sixth in the standings with their great showing.
As Biggs/Segers retired, along with Currie/Sharp and Robinson Fairhurst, the tables took on a different complexion with the Kirby/Kirby pairing moving to within two points of Brian Gray/Clement Conil in the Cup, and Appleby brothers Sam/Jack Laidlow making third place in the same class. This took them to eighth in the standings, ahead of many more accomplished names.
For newcomers cutting their teeth, this was a very encouraging and satisfying result. They were grinning from ear to ear on the podium.
Kirk/Masters completed a great day with a fine fifth place ahead of the Laidlow boys, and certainty of yet another podium. Sixth pace in the table heading into Thruxton was an excellent result.
Blackstock/Rosney protested the time penalty, and the podium was delayed until close of play, when a jury meeting and subsequent review decided there was no supporting evidence. Their win was re-instated, making it three out of three for the new championship leaders. But for half-points in race two, their margin would have been much greater.
Holden/Lawrence were therefore denied their first win, but more than justified their weekend making great inroads.
GP Class – Blackstock 161.5, Ellis 137.5, Holden 117, Christie 112, Currie 80,
Kirk 74, Biggs 65, Kershaw 55, Archer 48, Cable 27.
Cup Class – P. Bell 167.5, Gray 142, Kirby 140, Robinson 126, Clarke 93,
Williams 87.5, M. Bell 75, Laidlow 70, Pottinger 62, Crawford 50, Hauxwell 50,
Peach 43, Moss 30, Stevens 6.
F2 Class – Founds 50, Gibson 22, Crowe 20
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