FSRA British F2 Sidecar chiefs are expecting a flyer this weekend as the series’ 35th year of championship action gets undeway at Snetterton.
The eight-round series kicks off alongside NG Road Racing this Saturday and Sunday, and outfit squads, both new and returning, are all raring to go with some of the highest pre-registered team numbers for well over a decade.
After playing host to a total of 36 races in two decades, this weekend marks the first visit by the FSRA for six years, the last being the season opening event in 2013, dominated by John Holden and Andy Winkle. They claimed pole position, both race wins and the lap record which still stands: 1:18.670sec.
Starting as favourites for the 2019 championship are Peter Founds and Jevan Walmsley. In 2018, they joined an exclusive club of teams who have won a hat trick of British F2 titles, and became only the second team to win three consecutive championships after Tom Hanks and Steve Wilson from 1997 to 1999. Founds and Walmsley can make history this year if they continue their remarkable run of form and win an unprecedented fourth title.
Last year’s runners up, Lee Crawford and Scott Hardie will be looking to go one better this time around. The Team ARC pairing had their best season to date in 2018, winning the same number of races as Founds and Walmsley, but several DNFs put a severe dent in their title chase. Should the Anglo-Scottish pair gain the same level of consistency as their rivals, they can’t be discounted as serious championship threats.
Third place in last year’s standings went the way of John and Jake Lowther, with their best performance at British Championship level to date. John will have Sarah Stokoe on board this year, who helped him bag a podium at Donington Park in 2018 while filling in for Jake. They will be looking to move up the order, but will face stern competition from the likes of Steve and Matty Ramsden, Sean Hegarty and James Neave, reigning F2 Cup champs Daryl Gibson and Ashley Moore, Conrad Harrison and Andy Winkle and Mike Jackson and Ben Binns, among others.
A notable inclusion to the line up this year is seventeen times Isle of Man TT winner Dave Molyneux, with Harry Payne in the chair. Molyneux placed third in the British F2 Championship way back in 1994, and has taken seven podiums, including four wins, in the past. The pairing competed in the 2018 finale at Oulton Park and were immediately on the pace, chalking up a third place finish. Moly and Payne are one of four Manx-based teams competing this year, along with two newcomer pairings to the series: being Darren Hope/Lenny Bumfrey and Craig Melvin/Stuart Christian.
Gibson and Moore won the F2 Cup crown in dominant fashion last year and, along with runners-up Ralph Remnant and Samantha Tilley, they graduate to the Super class this year, both teams having finished comfortably in the top 10 of the overall Super F2 standings.
Twenty two teams will be eligible to score points in the Cup ranks this year, including Chris Schofield and Lee Edwards, Brian Ilaria and Olly Lace, Nicky Dukes and William Moralee, Richard Lumley and Ray Whitnall and Giles and Jen Stainton, all of whom have featured on the F2 Cup podium in recent events.
But newcomers to the series include Simon Robinson and Phil Gravel, who won multiple championships in Scotland last year, reigning FSRA Pre-Injection champs John Shipley Jnr and Milo Ward, Michael Kirkup and Arlo Brown and returning duo Rob Atkinson and Mark Middleton.
Following an upturn in the championship in recent years, a total of seven newcomer teams join the fray in 2019, with a further two pairings returning after a year or more away. And sidecar squads are already knocking on FSRA doors looking for wildcard entries, pointing to a bumper year of full grids.
*Main image: JTW Motorsport Photography
*Side images: Dirk Wharton