STEVE Kershaw and Ryan Charlwood dominated the opening Molson Group British F1 Sidecar round this weekend with a clean sweep and perfect points.
The Express Tyres/Sandtander Salt LCR duo stormed to pole position at Cadwell Park and both wins to kick off the hunt for another title in style.
Joining Bemsee club action this weekend, Britain’s flagship outfit series attracted plenty of bikes and teams for a Friday test and two days of racing.
But it was trouble before action began as the official Kawasaki teams of Ricky Stevens and Ben Holland ran into difficulties in the final week leading up two round one and they were not on the grid.
Another team in trouble were Chris Walker and Ashley Hawes who blew their one and only TAG Racing Yamaha engine in the early session and took no further part in events.
With a strong show in qualifying, Kershaw and Ellis shared the front row, with Lewis Blackstock/Paddy Rosney and the Christie brothers making up row two. Veteran John Holden and passenger Jake Lowther lined up alongside new blood and former podium finishers Tommy Philp and Tom Bryant.
In hot conditions for race one, Blackstock and Rosney got a flier and were quickly immersed in a scrap with the pole men Kershaw/Charlwood. They stole a march and took the lead, with Ellis then making a play on Kershaw.
Ellis and Richardson stuck to the task, and using their Cadwell knowledge to the full, passed Kershaw before taking the lead from Blackstock/Rosney. They looked on target for victory, but it was not to be.
Each crew had their turns at the front and were circulating in close formation, with Kershaw eventually opening a lead.
The battle then raged for second for the remainder of the race between Blackstock and Ellis, with the reigning champions holding onto the runner-up spot by a couple of seconds at the flag.
Sam and Adam Christie were immaculate throughout in fourth, with a battling John Holden retiring at two thirds distance from fifth.
This promoted the Birchalls, who were happy with their new F2 Honda LCR and bike had bedded in nicely to reward them with a strong finish.
Phil Bell and Justin Sharpe had a strong race, scoring valuable points in sixth. Not so lucky, with yet another Cadwell dramatic moment, were Martin Kirk and Shelley Smithies who launched towards the sky ahead Bell before emerging shocked and surprised, albeit with a damaged fairing.
An astonishing drop in temperature and cold, damp track conditions greeted racers for Sunday’s scrap but by the time the lights went out, the track was dry and Kershaw made no mistake from the line this time. He shot away and was never headed despite Todd Ellis’s best efforts later in the race.
Blackstock and Rosney once again jumped from third on the grid into second place as they overtook Ellis and Richardson on the run up to Coppice.
Holden and Lowther were solid in fourth throughout, as the Birchalls sat comfortably fifth before pitting to discuss some mechanical issue. Their weekend had been a valuable test session promising much more to come.
The Christies sat fifth and set about catching John Holden in determined fashion. This battle went all the way to the lights, with Holden making up for his race one retirement claiming fourth place.
A good second outing by Philp and Bryant saw them finish behind the Christies, which went some way towards compensating them for a race one zero score. So, it was a repeat one-two for the Santander Salt team-mates, with Kershaw heading home to the borders with maximum points.
Blackstock and Rosney matched their first race performance getting the SBR team off to a strong start.