A grey dull day welcomed free practice, but things were better for qualifying. The main interest lay in the different capacity performance on the short Indy circuit.
Could the 1000cc bikes use the power, or would the more nimble 600's out-corner them?
The free session saw Kershaw and Clark nudge the Birchall brothers back, with John Holden/Lee Cain third on their 600, from Stevens/Charlwood similarly mounted.
Qualifying – Glorious sunshine greeted the grid for the early morning session, a complete contrast to the weather of recent days. Early times saw Matt MacLaurin, assisted this weekend by the bubbly Rick Lawrence, set some fast times early on.
Very quickly it became obvious that the 600's were handicapped little, if at all, on the 1.2 mile Indy Circuit.
Ben and Tom Birchall on the Mitchells of Mansfield Yamaha laid down a marker, chased on the time-sheets by the Kershaw/Clark Santander Salt Kawasaki.
Gary Bryan and Phil Hyde pitted their 1000cc Kawasaki against John Holden and Lee Cain's 600, but despite being one of the fastest through the speed traps, Bryan was pipped to third on the grid by the very rapid Barnes Racing/Silcone Engineering Kawasaki.
A spirited battle between Matt MacLaurin and Rupert Archer/Tom Bryant, ended up with them sharing row three, ahead of Phil Bell/Stuart Ramsay and the former Champions Ricky Stevens/Ryan Charlwood.
The session came to an abrupt end, when the Birchall Brothers and Brian Gray/Jason Pitt collided, resulting in the High Wycombe veteran landing on his roof.
This early finish denied any further opportunity for Kershaw to claim pole time.
Race One – From pole position, Ben and Tom Birchall made no mistake. The speed of their 600 off the line was amazing, and they were in front heading into Paddock Hill Bend.
Going with them was the very rapid 1000 of Gary Bryan and Phil Hyde. Now running in his own GBR colours, he was tucked in behind the Birchalls along with fellow TT experts John Holden and Lee Cain.
Steve Kershaw/Stuart Clark, by their own admission did not make the best start and had to fight their way past.
Once by, and into second place, the gap between them and the race leaders hovered around the two and a half second mark for most of the race.
It certainly appeared as if the Mitchells of Mansfield duo were managing the gap, obviously acutely aware of their pit-board.
Try as they might, the Scots could not narrow the distance and were obliged to follow the Birchall Yamaha home.
Further down the order, there were terrific battles going on, in particular the scrap between Rupert Archer/Tom Bryant on the Adolf RS Suzuki in Hannafin Racing colours, and the reigning 600 Cup Champions Todd Ellis/Chaz Richardson. Their Honda was ailing, and whilst they could sling-shot past Archer in the turns, they ran out of steam as the engine visibly slowed by the lap.
Matt MacLaurin and Rick Lawrence were flagged in for an offence for which they appeared to be innocent. Up to that point they were going well, mixing it with Archer and Ellis.
Gary Bryan resisted any attack by John Holden and brought it home for a fine third place and a visit to the podium.
Phil Bell and Stuart Ramsay after running strongly, were obliged to drop back with a broken gear linkage.
Mention has to be made of a brilliant ride by Ian Guy and John Allum, pairing up for a “one-off” appearance together. They fought through to seventh and nine points.
1 – Ben/Tom Birchall (Mitchells of Mansfield Yamaha)
2 – Steve Kershaw/Stuart Clark (Santander Salt Kawasaki)
3- Gary Bryan/Phil Hyde (GBR Racing Kawasaki)
4 – John Holden/Lee Cain (Barnes/Silicone Engineering Kawasaki)
5 - Rupert Archer/Tom Bryant (Hannafin Adolf Suzuki)
6 – Todd Ellis/Chaz Richardson (Santander Salt Honda)
7 - Ian Guy/John Allum (Yangi Motorsport Suzuki)
8 – Alan Founds/Tom Christie (Brian Gray Powerbiking Yamaha)
9 – Martin Kirk/Shellie Smithies (MK Racing Yamaha)
10 – Gary Horspole/Ashley Moore (Sleaford Foods/Baker Plant Kawasaki)
Race Two – Weather conditions had stayed dry, but the air and track temperature much cooler than for the opener. It turned out to be an abortive start, because as the pack flew into the first turn,
Ian Guy and John Allum stunned the grid with an absolute flyer. They were streets ahead as the pack roared into Paddock Hill Bend. The Kershaw/Clarke bike was away to a great start too, but it was all for nothing. Rod Robinson and Simon Gilbert, from mid-pack went straight on into the gravel. This turned out to be as a result of oil deposited from Matt MacLaurin's seriously blown engine.
The race was subsequently postponed to the end of the day, and as a result, both the Birchall Brothers, and John Holden decided to leave early. They have other priorities with the World Championship looming next weekend in Le Mans.
The restart was in very different conditions. Rain had fallen and the track was very wet. Tyre choice therefore was decided automatically.
It was obvious from the word go, that the big engined bikes were a handful in these conditions.
The Founds brothers Pete and Alan were very smooth, as indeed were Todd Ellis and Chaz Richardson on their Honda.
Steve Kershaw was very quickly up with the leaders, but could do nothing about the short chassis 600 Suzuki of Pete Founds/Jevan Walmsley. The reigning British F2 Champion was a class act in these conditions, and steadily pulled a four second gap over his brother Alan, and in third Steve Kershaw.
Behind them, Simon Gilbert/Jack Tritton (Draper Racing Yamaha) and Phil Bell/Stuart Ramsay were making the most of the conditions to bring home pleasing results and solid points.
Bell's new 1000 Kawasaki, whilst a missile in the dry, was to be treated with respect in the slippery conditions.
Former Champions Ricky Stevens and Ryan Charlwood were making their way through, but still experiencing teething troubles with the Quattro Plant/JG Speedfit Kawasaki.
Kevin Cable/Guy Pawsey got the better of Rupert Archer/Tom Bryant for tenth place, as they followed Martin Kirk and Shellie Smithies home.
For sure, the conditions made this one a bit of a lottery, but next up at Oulton, it will be a different story.
Steve Kershaw and Stuart Clark lead the table into Cheshire.
1- Pete Founds/Jevan Walmsley (DDM Suzuki)
2- Alan Founds/Tom Christie (Brian Gray Yamaha)
3- Steve Kershaw/Stuart Clarke (Santander Salt Kawasaki)
4- Todd Ellis/Charlie Richardson (Santander Salt Honda)
5- Simon Gilbert/Jack Tritton (Draper Racing Yamaha)
6- Phil Bell/Stuart Ramsay (Marin Motorsport Kawasaki)
7- Brian Gray/Jason Pitt (Brian Gray Yamaha)
8- Ricky Stevens/Ryan Charlwood (Quattro Plant/JG Speedfit Kawasaki)
9- Martin Kirk/Shellie Smithies (MK Racing Yamaha)
10- Kevin Cable/Guy Pawsey (L&W Cable Racing Kawasaki)
Round Two comes from Oulton Park 5-7th May