After a fiercely contested opening round on the Brands Hatch Indy circuit in front of a packed grandstand, the Hyundai Heavy Industries British Sidecar Championship arrives at historic Oulton Park for the second encounter and an equally enthusiastic Cheshire crowd. These picturesque surroundings have played host to the greatest sidecar racers in the world over many decades, and the May Bank Holiday Weekend promises to uphold that tradition.
Five times World Champion Tim Reeves, now back with younger brother Tristan, heads the charge as prime challenger for the 2017 crown, and leads the title chase after the opener at Brands Hatch where they landed an emphatic double. British Champions together in 2012, they want it back on their Carl Cox Motorsport Kawasaki.
Defending champions currently trailing by ten points, and equally determined to deny Reeves that opportunity, are Ricky Stevens and Ryan Charlwood. Now in JG Speedfit Kawasaki colours, they have their eyes firmly set on a hat-trick of titles, and were disappointed not to taste victory in Kent. With just one race on the Oulton Park schedule, there will be no room for error, or indeed any second chances.
Alan Founds and Tom Peters on the Brian Gray's Powerbiking 600
Chris Walker returns to the scene of his memorable 2000 BSB title clash with Neil Hodgson, where they both ended in the gravel at Lodge Corner. This time however, on three wheels and assisted by former World Champion passenger Ashley Hawes, he will hope to improve his title position and maybe claim his first victory. The Santander Salt LCR Kawasaki has the latest ZX10 fitted, and now bedded in, it is a missile. Currently sitting in fourth place, Chris will be acutely aware that he needs to find that extra second a lap, to enable him to run at the front.
Returning Scot Steve Kershaw now with Stuart Clarke, was really in the groove in Kent, and certainly appears to have picked up where he left off at the end of 2015. A brace of podiums to kick-start the season is a fine way to make a come-back. A whole year out seems to have given him extra impetus, and the Express Tyres/Blinkbonny Kawasaki is another very fast outfit. You just get the sense that there is more, much more to come from the Scots.
Other names to conjure with are Ben Holland/Stuart Ramsey, Phil Bell/Tony Belsey and Andy Peach/Ken Edwards. The latter crew had mechanical issues with a new bike in Kent but with two weeks to sort it, they'll be on the pace.
Opening their defence of the 600cc Cup crown, the Birchall Brothers, Ben and Tom, arrive at Oulton fresh from victory at Le Mans in the World Championship. Now powered by Yamaha on their Mitchells of Mansfield LCR, they are brimming with confidence, although they must play catch-up to Alan Founds/Tom Peters who took double victory in their absence at Brands on the Brian Gray Powerbiking Yamaha. Given there are more clashes with World rounds, Founds and Peters know they must score regularly to keep the Birchalls at bay, and will certainly be trying hard here this weekend. The job will not be easy however, because there will be a full grid of 600s to complicate matters somewhat.
The race is at the end of proceedings on Monday, but still falls within the live Eurosport TV slot, so armchair viewers can catch all the action as it unfolds.
The highlights show will be available approximately two weeks after the race on Front Runner TV (Freesat 250, Freeview 91 and SKY 468)
Schedules will be published shortly.