REIGNING F2 champions Pete Founds and Jevan Walmsley stretched their FSRA series advantage with a dominant double win at Donington Park this weekend.
As the championship entered its second half, the DDM Suzuki duo bagged both victories by over 10s to extend their points lead to 85 thanks to a DNF by their closest rivals Lee Crawford and Scott Hardie.
Founds/Walmsley clocked their fastest time late in Saturday’s qualifying session with a a 1:15.161, which would put them on pole just ahead of Crawford/Hardie.
The second row of the grid was split by less than two tenths of a second as Ramsden/Christie and Harrison/Winkle lined up side-by-side, with Gibson/Moore and Hegarty/Neave completing row three.
Over 20 teams lined up for the first scrap of the weekend, which was to be the race of the year so far for eight of 10 laps.
But half way through lap one there was drama for Team Powerhouse’s Ilaria/Lace as their sidecar chair wheel decided to break away from the outfit, forcing them out of action. At the front, however, it was Founds/Walmsley leading the way on lap two as Crawford/Hardie were keeping pace just 0.3s behind.
A two second gap had opened up to third with Harrison/Winkle leading a charging pack of Ramsden/Christie, Hegarty/Neave, Gibson/Moore and Lowther Stokoe with the latter two outfits nearly together.
Over the next couple of laps Founds/Walmsley and Crawford/Hardie would trade fastest laps and by the end of lap three, Crawford/Hardie recorded a personal best at 1:15.317s and were just 0.15s off the lead.
As the leaders approached Redgate on lap four, Crawford/Hardie stuck a pass on Founds/Walmsley and took the lead into Hollywood, stretching a 0.346s gap over the next lap before being reeled back in.
But disaster struck for Crawford and Hardie when a relay popped moments after the defending champs had taken the lead, meaning they were forced to retire.
With no one to chase them, Founds/Walmsley took the win by 16s over Harrison/Winkle and Ramsden/Christie finalising the podium in third in the Super F2 Class.
In the F2 Cup class, Gibson/Moore would take their seventh win from nine starts to extend their championship lead over Remnant/Tilley, who held off Russell/Parker by just 0.168s.
With the Bill Boddice Memorial Trophy up for grabs on Sunday, Founds/Walmsley were keen to haul the silverware as they had done in the two years prior.
Wet weather had plagued the circuit overnight, which meant that only 13 teams took part in the morning warm up, but five more joined the grid later in the afternoon as conditions dried for the 12-lap final race.
A reverse grid meant the front row featured Remnant/Tilley and Lowther Stokoe, with Gibson/Moore and Ramsden/Christie on row two and Harrison/Winkle and Founds/Walmsley on row three. But due to their DNF in race one, Crawford/Hardie would start on row ten along with Ilaria/Lace and Schofield/Taylor on row eleven.
When the lights went out, Lowther/Stokoe led into Redgate as Founds/Walmsley went in to the first corner in second, but they were caught out by a wet patch and slid sideways before managing to power out of the corner and carry on.
But Ramsden/Christie spun in avoiding Founds/Walmsley, causing carnage as Christie was thrown from the outfit and Gibson/Moore had nowhere to go as they collided with Ramsden’s bike and turned it over in the gravel.
As the leaders Lowther/Stokoe approached Craner Curves, they had a moment and Founds/Walmsley managed to avoid them, but the latter duo soon found a way through and led over the line by just under a second as Crawford and Hardie were making inroads in third.
At the end of lap three, Crawford/Hardie have moved ahead of Lowther/Stokoe and set about chasing down Founds and by the end of lap four, Crawford/Hardie had reduced the deficit to just 2.1s.
With a drying track, the Team ARC duo further reduced their deficit to 1.536s, but over the next five laps, Founds/Walmsley pulled the pin and laid down the fastest lap of the weekend – a 1:15.210 – as they set about extending their lead to a commanding 10.9s at the chequered flag.
The defending Bill Boddice Memorial trophy winners took victory once again to complete their clean sweep ahead of Crawford/Hardie, with Lowther/Stokoe bagging third as passenger Sarah took her maiden Super F2 podium.
In the F2 Cup battle, Giles and Jen Stainton snatched victory by just 0.108s over Brian Ilaria and Olly Lace, who in turn just managed to hold off Chris Schofield and Derek Taylor to the tune of 0.295s.
Extending both their points lead and impressive 10/10 finish ratio, Founds and Walmsley now lead the title chase by 85 points while Gibson and Moore head up the much tighter Cup battle with 14 points to spare over Remnant and Tilley.
*Images: Dirk Wharton