PERFECT conditions hit Cheshire last weekend as the 2021 FSRA/Wintec Racing Pre-Injection Sidecar Championship rolled into Oulton Park.
And in a change from previous seasons, where F2 machines had dominated the entries, a combination of new and returning teams registered with F1 outfits had swelled their ranks.
Most teams had taken advantage of the Friday practice sessions, but after the timed qualifying on Saturday morning many competitors were still fixing problems with their outfits. Previous F2 winner Rob Fisher’s Baker Thundercat was going strong, but passenger Rick Long was struggling and the pair pulled out of the qualifying after setting the fastest lap at a fraction over two minutes.
Second on the grid were Simon Horton / Jordon Forrest (1200 Wintec Suzuki), followed by Joe Heys / Gary Wheeler (1200 Heys Kawasaki) and Saunders boys Liam and James (600 Ireson Yamaha).
Just behind were the pairs of John Shipley / Milo Ward (1000 Ireson Yamaha), Bob Dawson / Sarah Hulme (600 Derbyshire Yamaha), Mark Burns / Steve Winfrow (900 Baker Honda), Steve Brooks / Ben Stell (600 GLR Honda), Dave Tibbles / Raitch Greenwood (1100 FJ Yamaha), Dave Crawford / Dave Baxter (1200 Shelbourne Yamaha), Wesley Pettman / Rian Saunders (600 Windle Yamaha), Martin Best / John Slater (1127 Shelbourne Suzuki), Alan Longshaw / Derek Salleh (600 Ireson Yamaha) and Steve Alexander / Amanda Mason (1000 Broadstock Kawasaki) bringing up the rear. A nasty engine noise for the latter duo meant the end of their day, which spelled disappointment after their Friday engine swap.
Meanwhile, experienced passenger Sarah Stokoe hopped on the side of Fisher’s outfit in place of Long as the two stormed to a clean sweep, winning both races in dominant fashion.
Behind, Horton / Forrest initially got away in second place but a snapped throttle cable forced them to retire after two laps, leaving Heys / Wheeler to take the runner-up honours.
A fuelling issue also forced Longshaw / Salleh out on lap two, while Best / Slater pulled out after four laps. Third in the race, and runners up in the F2 class, were the Saunders brothers, both sporting orange jackets as newcomers, finishing less than a second ahead of 2018 series F1 champions Shipley / Ward.
A distance further back were the trio of outfits of Burns / Winfrow, Dawson / Hulme and Tibbles / Greenwood, finishing in that order following a race-long battle. Brooks / Stell took fourth place in the F2 class, and ninth overall, comfortably ahead of Pettman / Saunders.
In race two, there was drama for Burns / Winfrow early on as they stalled on the line before setting about catching the rest of the field. Having fixed their earlier problem, Horton / Forrest had a good run to stay just ahead of Shipley / Ward, the latter of whom was closely followed home by his father in the Wirral 100 Open outfit ranks.
Early F1 leaders Heys / Wheeler eventually took third place in the class and fourth overall. Similar positions to those in the opening race gave the Saunders duo second place among the F2s and fifth overall. Dawson / Hulme were the third F2, sixth overall.
Crawford / Baxter took fourth in the F1 class and seventh overall, closely followed by Tibbles / Greenwood fifth in class, with Burns / Winfrow the sixth and final F1 team. Pettman / Saunders took fourth in the F2 class, ahead of Longshaw / Salleh.
Words by Marianne Walford
Internal images by Ste McNorton