PETE Founds and Jevan Walmsley remain in command of the FSRA British F2 Sidecar Championship points after sharing the spoils with Lee Crawford and Scott Hardie at Donington Park.
Following their clean sweep at Snetterton, Founds and Walmsley were keen to pick up where they left off as 28 series regulars headed to round two.
Joining the ranks were wildcard entries in the form of 2015 British F2 champion Alan Founds and Jake Lowther and reigning World Champions, Ben and Tom Birchall – both in LCR Yamahas and each looking for valuable set up time before the TT.
Crawford and Hardie had set the early pace but headed into the pits after four laps with an intermittent electrical fault. Fellow LCR Suzuki runners Founds and Walmsley had no such issues and made the most of the session, clocking a 1:14.525sec lap to take pole.
Dave Molyneux and Harry Payne lined up second ahead of Crawford and Hardie while the Birchalls qualified fourth but opted not to take to the grid in either race, using other practice sessions to continue development work.
Daryl Gibson and Ashley Moore were fifth fastest, ahead of Sean Hegarty and James Neave, Mike Jackson and Ben Binns, John Lowther and Sarah Stokoe, Conrad Harrison and Andy Winkle with Steve and Matty Ramsden rounding out the top ten.
A few rain showers in the early afternoon had put a slight dampener on the first day and with a little under a quarter of an hour to go before race one, more drizzle began to fall, with some ominous looking clouds on the horizon.
However, the majority of teams set off on slicks on the warm up lap to be faced a hugely greasy surface.
Crawford and Hardie, who tend to thrive in damp and wet conditions, made a phenomenal start from the second row and they opened a buffer of just under two seconds at the end of the opening lap from Founds and Walmsley. Molyneux and Payne were in hot pursuit, along with Hegarty and Neave and Jackson and Binns.
Conditions began to deteriorate, with steady rain falling around parts of the circuit. Michael Kirkup and Arlo Brown Kirkup spun, which left Chris Schofield and Lee Edwards with nowhere to go, a slight impact forcing the current F2 Cup championship leaders into retirement.
Other retirements included Nick Dukes and William Moralee, Charlie Morphet and Paul Halliburton and Paul Riley and Shaun Parker.
The rain stopped around half distance and the track began to quickly dry. Founds and Walmsley were hot on the heels of the leaders, cutting the gap to just under a second.
Back markers came into play in the closing stages, and there was little to separate the two leading teams, who were now well clear of the chasing pack. Crawford and Hardie held on to take the win by 0.2s from Founds and Walmsley, who had the consolation of taking the fastest lap whilst attempting to get on terms with the leaders.
Founds and Lowther pipped Hegarty and Neave to third, while Molyneux and Payne, Lowther and Stokoe, Jackson and Binns and the Ramsdens filled the next placings.
Atkinson and Dawson finished ninth overall, and were first of the F2 Cup teams home, five seconds ahead of Conrad Harrison and Andy Winkle. Shipley Jnr and Ward and Richard Lumley and Ray Whitnall completed the F2 Cup podium.
Sunday’s weather was warm and sunny, perfect for the longer 12-lap scrap, where the winners would receive the Bill Boddice Trophy.
With the top six finishers from race one lining up in reverse order, the pole sitter was John Lowther with a change of passenger in Tom Christie, alongside Molyneux and Payne.
But when the lights changed, the top three from race one were contesting the lead as the pack charged frantically into Redgate.
At the end of lap one, there was little to separate the two Founds brothers machines and Crawford and Hardie. The latter pairing briefly showed their nose ahead as the three outfits peeled into Redgate, but with yellow flags still out to deal with the aforementioned incident, they immediately gave the place back.
The chasing pack was just a second behind, keenly contested by Molyneux and Payne, Lowther and Christie and Hegarty and Neave.
Founds and Walmsley extended their lead each lap, setting a new record of 1:14.147secs on their way to taking the win by six seconds, landing themselves the Bill Boddice Trophy and also boosting their points lead
Behind, the battle for second was close, with places swapping lap after lap. Founds and Lowther managed to hold off Crawford and Hardie after a race-long battle to take seconds.
Hegarty and Neave repeated their previous day’s fourth place finish, with Lowther and Christie fifth, and Molyneux and Payne taking sixth. The Ramsdens were seventh, Jackson and Binns eighth and Harrison / Winkle ninth.
Taking their second F2 Cup victory of the weekend, Tenth place went to Atkinson and Dawson who took their second F2 Cup win, ahead of Simon Robinson and Mick Fairhurst and Brian Ilaria with Olly Lace
*Images: Dirk Wharton