The eagerly anticipated 2019 A.C.U. / F.S.R.A. British F2 Sidecar Championship gets underway on the weekend of Friday 12th to Sunday 14th April, at Snetterton Circuit, hosted by the North Gloucester Road Racing Club. Thirty six teams have pre-registered for the series this year, being the largest number for well over a decade, and thirty three of them will be in action at this opening event.
Snetterton was very much a regular circuit on the British F2 calendar until fairly recently, playing host to a total of thirty six races in twenty years – indeed only Cadwell Park and Mallory Park have been the setting for events on more occasions than the Norfolk venue. This will be the first visit by the F.S.R.A. for six years – the last being the season opening event in 2013 – a meeting which was dominated by John Holden / Andy Winkle. They claimed pole position, both race wins and the lap record on the same 1.984 mile configuration, which is known as the “Snetterton 200” circuit.
In 2018, Pete Founds / Jevan Walmsley became only the second team in the history of the British F2 Sidecar Championship to win three consecutive titles. They will be going all out to make history this season, aiming to become the first crew to win four championships. They sealed the Super F2 series at Castle Combe last September, the penultimate round. However, at Oulton Park, the setting for the final encounter saw a dominant display by Lee Crawford / Scott Hardie, taking pole and the race win; consolidating their second place in the overall standings. Both of these combinations took the same number of pole position starts, and race wins, but consistent race finishing was key to “Team Founds” – both of these teams will be raring to go and establish an early advantage over the other at Snetterton.
Taking the fight to the aforementioned duos will be a plethora of established F.S.R.A. talent. Conrad Harrison / Andy Winkle both featured on the podium at Snetterton back in 2013 (albeit on rival outfits), and are rarely outside the top six in any British Championship encounter. Sean Hegarty / James Neave can consider this to be something of a “home circuit” for them, and will be hoping this may give them an advantage over their fellow competitors – indeed, they set a new N.G. club lap record for the Snetterton 200 circuit in June 2018. The return of Dave Molyneux / Harry Payne to the series is eagerly anticipated, and they, along with the likes of John Lowther / Sarah Stokoe, father and son team Steve / Matty Ramsden, Michael Jackson / Ben Binns and Sean Reeves / Paul Thomas (to name just a few) are all contenders for podium places, and some close racing will no doubt be evident.
The “F2 Cup” has proved almost as exciting as the overall “Super F2” championship over the last few seasons. Daryl Gibson / Ashley Moore won this series in style last year, with no fewer than eleven wins from fifteen starts, and they, along with runners up Ralph Remnant / Samantha Tilley step up in 2019 to solely score points in the main series. Last time the F.S.R.A. held a championship round at Snetterton (2013), John and Jake Lowther made their debut in the series, winning both F2 Cup races in style, and finishing in the top six overall. They went on to win the F2 Cup Championship in that year, and in 2018 had their best showing to date, finishing third in the Super F2 class.
Back to the present day, and there are any number of potential podium finishers in the F2 Cup class – and with Snetterton being something of an unknown quanity for many combinations, there could well be some surprises. Chris Schofield / Lee Edwards, Nicky Dukes / William Moralee, Brian Ilaria / Olly Lace and Richard Lumley Ray Whitnall – amongst others – all stood on the F2 Cup podium in 2018, although newcomers to the series, including multi-Scottish Clubman Champion Simon Robinson, with stand-in passenger Kez Hughes, and the 2018 F.S.R.A. Pre-Injection Champions John Shipley jnr / Milo Ward will no doubt be looking to assert their presence at an early stage.
Friday will see two (optional) familiarisation / testing sessions for competitors. On Saturday, there will be a free practice session, a 15 minute qualifying session, and a 10 lap race. Sunday morning will see a 10 minute warmup, and the second ten lap race of the weekend in the afternoon. (Sunday's race will see the top six finishers from Saturday “reversed”, continuing the format trialled last year).
Super F2 – 01:18.670 – John Holden / Andy Winkle – 31/03/13
F2 Cup – 01:20.591 – Tony Brown / Ryan Anderson – 08/07/12
I wish all competitors, team members, all those involved in running the meeting and the viewing public a safe and enjoyable weekend. Hopefully we will be graced with pleasant spring weather, and not the wintery conditions we endured in 2012 at another Snetterton season opener!
Round two of the series will once again be hosted by N.G.R.R.C. on the weekend of the 11th and 12th May, at Donington Park.