SIDECAR maestros Lee Crawford and Scott Hardie defended the Ian Bell Memorial Trophy after a dominant clean sweep at East Fortune.
For the second year running, the North East club dedicated a round of outfit racing to the late Bedlington sidecar ace Ian Bell, and once again Crawford and the Team ARC machine came out dominant at East Fortune at the weekend.
The towering County Durham native won the event last year with Patrick Farrance in the chair, but Scottish passenger Hardie has been a mainstay this season in the LCR Suzuki as, among other victories, he and Crawford most recently doubled up on wins at the Oliver’s Mount Gold Cup.
And their form carried on through the final round north of the border this year as they stormed to pole position Saturday morning at the East Lothian circuit before powering to all four outright race wins, beating off all the bigger F1 outfits.
Ken Minns and Mark Henderson wrapped up the NEMCRC’s F600 sidecar title, while Gavin Browne and Murray McKay took the club’s top Open-class trophy. The latter two also secured the Scottish Sidecar Racing Club’s F1 crown as Karl Pring and Chris Bonsall became F2 champs.
An elated Hardie spoke to UK Clubsport about the weekend and dropped hints of what’s to come for 2018…
“The Ian Bell Memorial was exactly what Lee and I planned to do,” he said. “We just wanted to go and enjoy ourselves – no pressure, retain the trophy and hunt the lap record.”
“Ian still holds it, but to get within less than 0.08 seconds of it made for a very happy team as Lee and I did the fastest lap we’d ever done around East Fortune: 1:03.508s.”
“We both plan to remain a team at the moment until we’re old burned-out racers. Next year we’ll be competing in the Scottish Championship, at Scarborough and maybe a few BSB wildcards, among a few other things we have up our sleeves…”
*Images: Dirk Wharton