Team A.R.C. had another weekend of contrasting fortunes as they fielded two outfits at Oliver's Mount, Scarborough in the Cock O'The North Road Races on the 24th and 25th June. While John and Jake Lowther impressed with four podium placings from the same number of starts; their team mates Lee Crawford and (stand-in passenger) Harry Payne had a successful opening day, taking a win and a third place, but suffered two non-finishes on the Sunday.
For the first time in several years the weather was dry and settled at Scarborough for the duration of an event, which meant tyre choice was not going to be a deciding factor! There is usually a compromise with damp conditions under the trees, which unusually was not in evidence on this occasion, although a fairly stiff breeze did make it's presence felt throughout.
Opening practice saw Steve and Matty Ramsden dominate the session, lapping 2.4 seconds faster than the chasing group of Conrad Harrison / Andy Winkle; Dave Molyneux and Dan Sayle; then the two Team A.R.C. machines, headed by Lee and Harry who were less than half a second ahead of John and Jake. Most teams used this session for circuit familiarisation, with laptimes being reasonably insignificant.
Both machines required some attention prior to qualifying. Lee and Harry were unhappy with the handling of their outfit, and made some changes to the rear suspension / swinging arm. John and Jake had a minor fluid leak, which required a small oil seal replacing - this proved to be a fairly lengthy job owing to being in a rather awkward area of the outfit to access.
Timed qualifying saw the pre-meeting favourites to dominate the event - Molyneux / Sayle - take pole position, 0.3 seconds clear of the Ramsdens. Lee and Harry were third fastest, the changes made following practice proving fruitful. Harrison / Patterson split the two Team A.R.C. outfits, with John and Jake fifth, the sixth place qualifiers were Dean Lindley / Rob Bell, almost two seconds in arrear of the Lowthers.
An excellent start was made by the Ramsdens in the opening race. They were followed into Mere Hairpin by John and Jake, who had started directly behind them. Molyneux / Sayle were fending off Lee and Harry, with Harrison / Winkle waiting to capitalise in fifth should any of those in front of them make a slight mistake as the field headed through The Esses and onto the back straight.
Unfortunately, the red flag came out before the end of the opening lap. Mark Saunders / Karl Schofield had an incident as they braked on the entry to Memorial, passing the Cafe at a rate of knots. Thankfully they both emerged unscathed, and although they were not able to make repairs in time for the second outing on the Saturday, they were able to participate the following day.
An efficient clean up and recovery job was done by the marshals, and a full re-start was held only fifteen minutes later. Once again, the Ramsdens made a blistering start. However, it was the "other" Team A.R.C. machine this time that was snapping at their heels, as the field blasted up Quarry Hill on the opening lap. John and Jake had relegated Molyneux / Sayle to fourth, with Harrison / Winkle slotting into fifth. A minor bump at Mere Hairpin on the opening lap saw circuit returnees Dave Hirst / Doug Chandler retire to the pits - they had hit the back tyre of Greg Lambert / Julie Canipa as the outfits tried to "sort themselves out" - a squashed silencer and a broken wheelarch was set to rule them out for the rest of the day while repairs were made overnight.
The order at the front remained unchanged at the end of lap one, with any of the top four in a position to make a move if any opportunity presented itself. On lap three, Harrison / Winkle moved up to fourth, passing Molyneux / Sayle, who retired to the paddock at the end of the lap. Lee and Harry made an excellent outbraking maneouvre into Mere Hairpin on lap four, taking the lead from the Ramsdens, who now had to turn their attentions to dealing with John and Jake, who were intent on replicating the move of their aforementioned team mates! As the top three continued to defend their places from one another resolutely, Harrison / Winkle had now closed in slightly, setting the fastest lap of the race on the fifth circuit, having pulled eighteen seconds clear of fifth placed Lindley / Bell who were having a lonely race.
There was slight confusion as the chequered flag was prematurely shown to sixth placed Andy Wilby / Paul Lowther, who were not close to being lapped, but were the last outfit circulating - however, they were still credited with their finish. Lee and Harry held on for an excellent win, just 0.4 seconds ahead of the Ramsdens, with John and Jake placing third, also 0.4 seconds ahead of Harrison / Winkle, in what had been a close fought encounter.
Race two was held only a short time later, and the line up was determined on the finishing positions from race one (which is a new format this year, and has had a cautious welcome from the majority of the sidecar paddock, but has drawn criticism from some in the solo world). This meant Lee and Harry had the honour of starting from pole position - however they immediately relinquished this advantage, as the Ramsdens and John and Jake both passed them as the lights changed. Indeed, it was John and Jake from the second row who took the lead - with the identical liveries on the Team A.R.C. machines causing confusion for spectators and officials alike - a position they held until mid distance when they slightly missed their braking point at Mountside Hairpin, allowing the Ramsdens to take charge at the front. Lee and Harry were running third, although brake problems were hampering their progress, and they settled for the final podium place. Behind them, Molyneux / Sayle had made their way up to fourth place on the road, having had to start down the grid as they were non-finishers in the previous race. The top three stayed the same at the chequered flag, with the Ramsdens taking a winning margin of two seconds over John and Jake, with Lee and Harry a similar distance back in third. Harrison / Winkle were fifth across the line, but promoted to fourth at the expense of Molyneux / Sayle who were penalised ten seconds for an infringement at Farm Bends in the early stages of the race. Dave Wallis / Scott Hardie; Lambert / Canipa and Wilby / Lowther made up the finishers, with Lindley / Bell being the sole retirement.
A late night diagnosing and rectifying the brake problem with Lee and Harry's outfit was endured. A seal in one of the master cylinders had split, and was the obvious cause of the issue! A new master cylinder was fitted, however a full re-bleed of the braking system was necessary, being a rather turgid and arduous task.
Race one on Sunday saw both outfits back on the grid, with the brake problems thankfully cured for Lee and Harry. The Ramsdens yet again were the first pairing into Mere Hairpin on the opening lap, however, Lee and Harry had passed John and Jake, with all three outfits vying for the lead. Hot on their heals were Harrison / Winkle and Molyneux / Sayle. The Ramsdens were making their outfit as wide as possible, with both Team A.R.C. outfits desperate to find a way past.
As the outfits exited Farm Bends to begin lap three, Lee and Harry had better drive than the Ramsdens, who took a defensive line into Mere Hairpin. Making a move around the outside, Lee and Harry were alongside them - for whatever reason, the outfits touched and both went "wide", and Lee and Harry found themselves heading towards the banking on the right hand side. Having to take action, places were lost not only to the Ramsdens, but John and Jake; Harrison / Winkle and Molyneux / Sayle - the latter pairing having nowhere to go, hitting Harry's foot as they took evasive action - thus ruling Lee and Harry out of the race.
John and Jake hounded the Ramsdens for the remaining laps, but were unable to find a way through to the lead. Harrison / Winkle took third after Molyneux / Sayle retired on lap four. Lambert / Canipa; Lindley / Bell; Hirst / Chandler and Saunders / Schofield (the latter pairings both back in action following their misdemeanours on the previous day) completed the finishers.
The final race of the weekend was another disappointing one for Lee and Harry - coming from the back of the grid they had moved up to sixth position and were in close company with Lambert / Canipa. However, coming over The Jumps on lap one they lost drive - with the chain having snapped, chopping through an ignition amplifier in the process! Pulling up at Farm Bends they were able to see John and Jake take yet another runners up position to the Ramsdens, finishing a second clear of third placed Harrison / Winkle. In a somewhat less frantic outing, the remaining finishers were: Lindley / Bell; Lambert / Canipa; Wallis / Hardie; Hirst / Chandler and Wilby / Lowther.
As always, Team A.R.C. would like to thank everyone who has assisted them, particularly the following (in no particular order). Katy's Home Tanning; P.G. Legal; KC Computer Repairs; Walker Tyres; Motul; Pagid Rennsport; Dean Banks Engine Management; Happy Dog Image Solutions; PMH Promotions; Tony Baker; Dynobike (Malton); Dirk Wharton Photography; Elite Meat and A.R.C. Newton Aycliffe / Binchester. Thanks also go to all at the Auto 66 Club for running an excellent meeting.
The next planned event is in a little over three weeks time, at the "Barry Sheene Classic Road Races", once again at Oliver's Mount, where hopefully both machines will be in action. The A.C.U. / F.S.R.A. British F2 Sidecar Championship then resumes on the following weekend at Anglesey Circuit, following an eleven week break to accommodate the Isle of Man TT, Southern 100 and Scarborough events.