World-class performances at sidecar season finale
Anyone who thought that, with the title already decided '“ and in the custody of a Lauder duo '“ round 10 of the RKB British F1 Sidecar Championship might be a damp squib could not have been more wrong.
With 28 teams entered at Brands Hatch, including five World Series crews (with nine world titles between them), the reigning British F2 champions and several wild card crews looking to test their mettle, a cracking weekend was in prospect.
It was also the last time the 1000cc monsters would be allowed to compete in the British series, so Borders pair Steve Kershaw and Stuart Clark were keen to put the Kershaw Racing LCR on top of the podium one last time before the enforced switch to 600cc for 2019.
The title holders set their stall out early, qualifying in pole 1.7 seconds ahead of 2018 World Champions Ben/Tom Birchall on their LCR 600.
Race one, on a very warm, sunny and non-autumn like Saturday, started with Kershaw/Clark rocketing into the lead from the start and pulling away to an untroubled win over 11 seconds clear after 10 laps.
Behind, however, the race for the podium fizzed and crackled between the Birchalls, Reeves/Wilkes and Bryan/Hyde for the whole race, ending with the Birchalls in second and Bryan/Hyde barging through to steal third on the line.
Further back, Steve and Stuart’s Santander Salt team mates Ellis/Richardson finished seventh th overall to win the 600 Cup championship and secure second overall in the main series.
In complete contrast, Sunday dawned cold, wet and dull for the final race of the season.
The reverse grid had Team Kershaw in 10th and, with their point proved on Saturday and the outfit already sold, finishing intact in the treacherous conditions was priority.
The fuse was lit as Reeves/Wilkes fired into the lead after three corners from seventh, aiming to end the year on a high after cruelly losing the world title at the final round two weeks earlier because of a mechanical failure.
Hot on his tail was Ellis/Richardson, full of confidence after retaining their 600 title and not fazed by the conditions at all.
Eight laps of nip and tuck came down to the last corner, when Ellis got the drive and squeezed under Reeves to win by six inches at
The Birchalls took third ahead of Kershaw/Clark but, for the impartial observers, it was a 2-0 win for the British series teams over their World Series rivals.
As the final points were tallied, it was a mightily impressive 17 wins from 23 starts for the Borders crew, 169 points ahead of second.
Along with eight pole positions, 17 fastest laps and two lap records, no-one could dispute their dominance over the season and made packing up in
the torrential rain almost a pleasure.
The team thanked its sponsors and all the others who had contributed to its success.
The race is now on for Stuart and Steve to build a new bike and be ready to defend their title next year.