RECORDS were shatter this weekend as the FSRA British F2 Sidecars rounded out their season with a return to Knockhill.
Back up at the Scottish circuit for the first time in almost two decades, the 2021 finale and packed Jock Taylor Trophy battle served up some of the hottest action all season.
Whilst the overall A.C.U./F.S.R.A. British F2 Sidecar Championship had been won by Lee Crawford/Scott Hardie (LCR Suzuki) at Croft a fortnight ago, and similarly the F2 Cup which went the way of Harry Payne/Mark Wilkes (GP Yamaha), both teams continued to support the series to its finale, and were in a determined mood to end the season in style.
Two wild-card teams – Murray McKay/William Szanel (Baker Suzuki) and former regulars Tony Baker/Jack Laidlow (Baker Suzuki) – joined the fray as Saturday morning qualifying began.
Crawford/Hardie immediately topped the timesheets – at a circuit which they have repeatedly broken the lap record over the last few years – once again going under the benchmark with a time of 52.889s. John Lowther/Matthew Rostron (LCR Yamaha) were running strongly in the early stages as Payne/Wilkes were quickly on the front running pace, posting the second fastest time on their fourth lap.
But as the session neared halfway there was an incident at the Hairpin involving Nev Jones/Mark Gash (LCR Suzuki). Medical assistance was on the scene almost as immediately as the red flags were put out, with both driver and passenger taken to hospital. Positive news has since been published on Nev and Mark – the club sends best wishes for a speedy recovery.
An additional medical incident involving a member of the public meant resources were stretched to their limits, and the organisers had no option other than to postpone proceedings for just over three hours and with no time to continue qualifying, it was Crawford/Hardie on pole ahead of Payne/Wilkes, with Lowther/Rostron and Steve/Matty Ramsden rounding out the second row ahead of Roger/Bradley Stockton and Rob Atkinson/Mark Middleton.
When the lights went out for race one, both front row outfits made fast starts while Lowther/Rostron were struggling perfecting their bike set up and lost some ground in the early stages with their machine going sideways, allowing the Ramsdens to settle into a comfortable third place on the road. A battle for fifth and sixth between the Stocktons and Atkinson/Middleton was shaping up as they swapped places throughout.
Ilaria/Sims were having a close scrap with Horspole/Cole, with the latter crew shelving its trusty Shelbourne Honda for an injected Baker Suzuki.
In the mid-pack battle for Cup class honours, Chris Schofield/Shane Colbrook (Baker Honda), Bruce Moore/Amy Dodd (Ireson Honda), Hackney/Ryder, Baker/Laidlow and David Schofield/Guy Pawsey were all at it as they lapped within 0.4sec of each other.
Back at the front, Crawford/Hardie matched their qualifying time to set a new lap record in a time of 52.986s on lap six, just as Payne/Wilkes put in the fastest F2 Cup lap in a time of 54.305s on the 16th lap to shatter the Cup class lap record.
But there was no stopping the Super F2 champs as thy took the win by 17.8s from Payne/Wilkes, the runaway Cup class winners. The Ramsdens took a distant third, ahead of Cup-class runners-up the Stocktons, who also then secured second in the championship. Fifth on the road were Atkinson/Middleton ahead of Horspole/Cole, Ilaria/Sims, Schofield/Colbrook, Hackney/Ryder as Baker/Laidlow rounded out the top ten.
With the top six finishers from Saturday lining up in reverse order for the start of race two, it was Atkinson/Middleton and Horspole/Cole who headed the charge on lap one. Payne/Wilkes had made a break from the third row and were challenging for the lead, while Crawford/Hardie had work to do from sixth on the grid.
Payne/Wilkes started establishing a healthy lead on lap two, with Crawford/Hardie carving through the Ramsdens, Horspole/Cole and Atkinson/Middleton before breaking through to second on lap four, just as the Cup champs had opened a six-second gap at the front.
Meanwhile, lapping third quickest on circuit were Lowther/Rostron who were up to seventh after starting at the very back of the grid following their race one DNF.
Crawford/Hardie went on a charge with clear air and despite Payne/Wilkes bettering their F2 Cup record with a 53.795s on lap five, Crawford/Hardie were closing the leading outfit down at a rate of around 1.3s per lap, setting the fastest time of the race on lap seven in a time of 52.515s after already beating their best time of the weekend with a 52.352 in the Scottish championship race.
The F2 lap record holders levered Payne/Wilkes aside at half distance, opening up around two seconds a lap. And Payne/Wilkes were assured a runner-up finish when the third-placed Ramsden outfit lost power, dropping to three cylinders as Atkinson/Middleton moved into the final rostrum spot as they came under pressure from Lowther/Rostron before the latter span out.
Crawford/Hardie put on a masterclass to pull 17sec clear of the field, lapping every outfit up to third place, as they beat Payne/Wilkes once again. A delighted Atkinson/Middleton were third to take their first Super F2 podium together as they also secured third in the F2 Cup standings.
Horspole/Cole came home fourth ahead of Iliaria/Sims, Hackney/Ryder, the Ramsdens, the Stocktons, Baker/Laidlow and Schofield/Colbrook.
As well as winning both FSRA races, Crawford and Hardie dominated both Scottish Sidecar races before winning the Jock Taylor Trophy with a nearly five-second victory over Simon Robinson/Mick Fairhurst and Lewis Nicol/Rhys Gibbons.