ROB Fisher and Rick Long swept this weekend’s FSRA Lane Building Services Pre-Injection Sidecar series opener as they made a triumphant championship return.
The former champs took two wins at Mallory Park as the PI outfits made their first outings of 2019 alongside EMRA.
But equally as impressive as Fisher and Long’s domination was 16-year-old Matthew Sims, who took a third place in the Trophy race as passenger to Hayley Christie in his first competitive outing.
Sims, having watched and assisted his dad and brother competing for the previous two Pre-Injection campaigns, had long awaited the moment when he too would be able to take part and having only recently turned sixteen, and completed the necessary licensing qualifications, has teamed up with Christie. Together they battled and beat family members Jody and Reece Sims to gain not just a trophy but also third place overall in the feature race.
Wesley Pettman and Anthony Hilidge have fitted an increased capacity Thundercat 720cc engine this year, meaning they have stepped from the F2 class to the F1 in the series’ new class structure. But this paid off as they won the F1 Trophy Race.
Combined with EMRA’s sidecar grids made for an oversubscribed event, and unfortunately not all teams with late entries were able to get a ride. But two new teams did make their debuts: Nigel Thomas and Dylan Weston on a 350 Shelbourne Yamaha and Yamaha 1000-mounted duo Lee Chadwick and Steven Fairclough.
In race one, Fisher/Long (600 Baker Yamaha) quickly took control of the Pre-Injection class and cruised to the win, finishing by a slender 0.01 seconds behind the overall race winners and defending EMRA title-holders King/Sigsworth on their fuel-injected 600 Ireson Honda. Chasing the champs, Fisher/Long set the fastest lap time of the day at 58.436sec.
Second in the Pre-Injection class were brothers John and Doug Chandler (600 Ireson Yamaha). There was a race long battle for third throughout the race with the 600 Derbyshire Yamaha of father and son pair Jody and Reece Sims and Dave Tibbles/Raitch Greenwood (1100 FJ Yamaha), with big four-stroke outfit, just edging it on the final lap.
Visiting the Pre-Injection series before they start their British Championship campaign were Mark Burns and Steve Winfrow (900 Baker Honda), coming home as the second placed F1 Pre-Injection machine, narrowly holding off Christie/Sims.
Andy and Jo Thomas (600 MRE Yamaha) had their best race for a while, just crossing the line in front of Ian Sutcliffe/Rob Bryant (600 Jacobs Yamaha). Next up came Pettman / Hildige (720 Windle Yamaha) taking third in the F1 class, with Thomas/Weston (350 Shelbourne Yamaha), new partnership Alan Longshaw/Derek Salleh (600 Baker Yamaha), the all-ladies team of Marianne Walford/Jan Tyrell (600 Baker Yamaha), and the F1 of Steve Alexander/Steve Woolcott (1000 Broadstock Kawasaki) completing the finishing order.
In the second scrap, the trophy race, it was a repeat one-two as Fisher/Long and the Chandler brothers finished just as they had earlier in the day. The Chandlers had some close encounters with the Sims in the early stages, before easing out a small buffer.
However, Christie and Sims were improving their lap times and by half distance were challenging their team-mates, before making a move and setting off in pursuit of the Chandlers. There was insufficient time remaining to pull further up the leaderboard, but Christie and Sims took a well deserved third place, with Matthew beating his dad and brother.
The Thomas pairing found two seconds to improve on their previous fastest, taking fifth. The first five places were all F2 outfits, with the first Pre-Injection F1 crossing the line next – Pettman/Hilidge, then Tibble/Burns. Minor issues confined the machines of Longshaw/ Salleh and Thomas/Weston to early retirements.
Last year’s front running teams who were campaigning big-engine outfits have moved on to other championships, which saw low F1 entries for this round. But the F2 class has become closer, particularly in the middle order, and in terms of competing with the F1 outfits. It’s early days, however, and the titles are still all to play for.
*Images: Dirk Wharton