Ellis/Clement maintain maximum at red-flagged Snetterton
A clear blue sky and soaring temperatures greeted a strong entry for round three at the Snetterton 300 circuit over the weekend.
New names and new machines saw the return of former champion Ricky Stevens with brother Wayne alongside, out for the first time on a brand-new Ryde chassis powered by Yamaha. They freely admitted this was a test outing for them to see how the rest of the season unfolded.
Another new team featured the Laidlow brothers from Cumbria with seventeen-year old Sam on the handlebars and twenty-year-old Jack holding down the third wheel. This is their first season with a long chassis, and they handled free practice well.
Todd Ellis and Emmanuelle Clement set the pace in practice, but qualifying would show who might challenge them.
Track conditions were very hot, as indeed was the ambient temperature. Whilst this should suggest maximum grip, several teams had mentioned a slippery and unpredictable surface.
However the track might have felt, there was no mistaking the intentions of the series leaders. Of the six laps they completed, the final tour was the one which came to within a second of the lap record held by Ben and Tom Birchall. A time of 1.58.017 gave Todd Ellis and Emmanuelle Clement (LCR Brookland Yamaha) a half-second edge over the Quattro Group Yamaha of Steve Kershaw/Ryan Charlwood. These two teams would start first and second and were well clear of the rest of the grid, with third and fourth slots taken by Lewis Blackstock/Paddy Rosney (DHR/Express Tyre Services Yamaha) and George Holden/Oscar Lawrence (Holden Racing Kawasaki).
Row three comprised Luke Williams/Jason Pitt and Rob Biggs/Ferry Segers with almost identical times. Craig Currie/Justin Sharp were strong in seventh alongside Rupert Archer/Adam Christie. Given good weather for the races, the lap record could well change.
Cloud cover had formed during the afternoon, with showers possible. Just as the sidecars came to the line, the sun was out again, and the stage was set.
From the lights, a three-way charge at the front saw Kershaw/Charlwood almost pip Ellis/Clement to turn one, but Todd Ellis out braked the Quattro Yamaha round the outside to grab the lead. Slotting into third was the DHR/Express Tyre Services Yamaha of Blackstock/Rosney.
What followed, was a race long scrap between those three crews with Lewis Blackstock and Paddy Rosney falling back slightly into a safe podium place. Their lap times were consistent, and they looked good. Ellis/Clement were always threatened by the Quattro Yamaha but never succumbed.
In their efforts to gain control, Kershaw/Charlwood set the fastest lap on lap four to get within three tenths of Ben Birchall’s lap record.
Further back, the action was very busy with George Holden/Oscar Lawrence holding fourth, but Sam and Tom Christie were making a stunning charge through the field from last on the grid. They were passing two and three outfits each lap as they fought through.
Luke Williams and Jason Pitt were incredibly strong on their come-back ride after fifteen weeks hospital and reconstruction treatment on Jason’s legs, and Luke’s broken hand. They were running fifth all race until the Christie brothers made them their final victim on their way to fifth place.
Williams/Pitt were best Cup team ahead of Phil and Carl Bell, who are now real Cup title contenders.
Agostini’s bend caused two outfits to capsize, first to go were Rob Biggs and Ferry Segers on lap four, with Craig Hauxwell/Derek Taylor doing the same in dramatic fashion two laps later. They ran in too hot, made a late turn and were upside down as the rear end broke away.
Derek unfortunately broke an arm and foot as he was thrown high in the air before hitting the tarmac. This resulted in a red flag and a result declared with six laps completed.
There were many spirited battles through the field, and several impressive individual performances, one of which was the debut of the Laidlow brothers Sam and Jack in their first championship outing on the Marin Motorsports Yamaha to finish thirteenth overall and fourth in class ahead of several Cup regulars, with their fastest lap in the 1.24’s.
1/Ellis/Clement (LCR Brookland Yamaha)
2/Kershaw/Charlwood (Quattro Group Yamaha)
3/Blackstock/Rosney (DHR/Express Tyre Services Yamaha)
4/Holden/Lawrence (Holden Racing Kawasaki)
5/Christie/Christie (Hannafin Yamaha)
6/Williams/Pitt (WSRT Yamaha)
7/Bell/Bell (Marin Motorsport Yamaha)
8/Archer/Christie (Hannafin Yamaha)
9/Currie/Sharp (Robinsons of Bawtry Honda)
10/Cable/Richardson (L&W Contractors Yamaha)
Following a light shower, the track was once again in perfect condition with Kershaw/Charlwood on pole this time by virtue of their race one fastest lap. They denied Ellis the hole shot and led for three laps despite Ellis’s best efforts to muscle by. This also gave Blackstock/Rosney the chance to hang close in third place, although they were to lose out to the determined Christie brothers on lap three. The Hannafin duo made third place theirs just as Ellis/Clement slid underneath Kershaw on a right-hander to claim the lead.
Once again, behind the leading quartet, Holden and Lawrence were holding fifth but this time Rob Biggs/Ferry Segers were climbing all over them. Craig Currie/Justin Sharp had Kevin Cable/Charlie Richardson for company the entire race, unable to shake the L&W bike off.
Sadly, Cup class leaders Simon Robinson/Mick Fairhurst were to roll the outfit on the fifth lap resulting in Robinson getting his leg trapped and an ensuing red flag, the second of the weekend. A result was declared, and half-points awarded.
Once again, newcomers Sam/Jack Laidlow acquitted themselves with distinction, ending up on the third step on the Cup class podium. Seventeen crews finished with the returning Stevens brothers and Luke Williams/Jason Pitt among the retirees.
Standings GP Class
Standings Cup Class
The highlights will be available on the Youtube Channel shortly and other information will be available on the website as it occurs. Make sure you stay across all the news and action on www.britishsidecarchampionship.co.uk.
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