*Photo credit, the wonderful Mr Neil Kirby
The team headed to the picturesque Lincolnshire circuit Cadwell Park for the 2nd Annual Sidecar Revival meeting, where a wide selection of Sidecars would be racing throughout the weekend.
This was Ste’s first time at the circuit in 4 years, and Dave having only visited the circuit once, when he popped his F2 passenger cherry at the same meeting in 2018, passengering for Dave Schofield.
The plan for the season was to experience some of the larger more technical circuits, which is what bought the team to a sunny Cadwell, taking advantage of the Friday practice sessions in the afternoon to get to grips with the circuit, and put to rest the electrical gremlins that had plagued them since Donington Park.
Friday’s sessions did just that, the problem which was identified as a glitch with the Power commander seemed to be resolved, returning back to the paddock after the first session, Steve asked Dave “how was that?”, Dave had already identified where the pair could go quicker… that was their aim over the weekend, getting laps sub 2 minutes, with no timing provided on Friday, they headed out for the second session, confidence was growing, it became evident that they were struggling with their lines through the blind double apex corners, whilst Dave was settling in, and enjoying the circuit.
Saturday morning and the team headed out for qualifying, with a full grid and a mix of F1 & F2 outfits, the Friday sessions proved well worth it, enabling Ste to try and get tow off some other outfits, to pick up on some of the lines around the circuit, the session ended with the team’s quickest lap a reasonable 2:10.003, reassuringly this put them 7seconds behind the next quickest outfit, and 1.782s ahead of Walford/Tyrrell, so leading the slower outfits, but clearly with some work to do to close the gap to the pack.
The lads got a reasonable start, with the exception of a small wheelie, holding back into the congested first corner, and struggling to get into gear into the right, they weren’t last, but the outfits ahead seemed to have more ooomppphh out of the corners, suggesting the outfit was over geared, but Ste & Dave took chase, trying to make up ground on the brakes, dropping down through the Goose Neck, before the session was red flagged, following an incident at Mansfield.
The race was restarted, there was a bit of commotion on the grid, as outfits raised their hands, and the start was aborted twice before finally getting under starters orders. The lights went out, and with Ste & Dave on the left hand side of the track, had the inside line for the first corner, although unable to utilise the advantage as two/three outfits ahead raised their arms, causing the following outfits to slow trying to identify the cause and see if it was safe to pass. There had been a coming together between two outfits, one pulling on to the grass, this allowed the outfits behind to pass on the outside, leaving Ste & Dave nowhere to go.
Walford/Tyrrell were in their sights, and the chase was on, unable to pass until the chicane after coppice, where Ste tucked it up the inside, where they remained for the duration. It then became a little bit lonely as the F1 outfit ahead pulled away down the straight, but Ste & Dave kept pushing, determined to get faster and faster. Dave being a fan of agressive, late heavy braking, had suggested that Park Corner was an ideal place to put it into practice, each lap Ste braked later, and harder… Dave convinced there was still more to come.
The restarted race 1 was again red flagged following an incident at Chris Curve.
Another respectable start, although another wheelie from a standing start, but the lads recovered well, keeping the outfits behind at bay through into Charlies, once onto Park Straight, the lads got a little ‘nudge’ from one of the outfits passing, other than yet another scuff to the fairing no damage sustained, other that riling the boys up who promptly took chase. Although still running over geared having not changed from the mornings race, the lads were doing their best to keep in touch, continuing to brake later and harder into Park Corner.
All was going well, until Dave’s helmet decided to unbuckle approaching the mountain… whilst it sounds like a typical passengers excuse to call it a day, Dave had the onboard camera facing him, and has video footage of it happening! That was it, race over in a frustrating way!
Sunday Race 1
A late night Saturday in the awning switching the gearing, during free practice the clutch was slipping after Ste mistakenly adjusted the clutch the wrong way. The general feeling was that the gearing was an improvement, and perhaps reducing it further may have been better. Although it was agreed that small adjustments as the team get to grips with how the gearing changes affect the outfit.
The lads lined up at the back of the grid having the DNF from Saturdays race 2. The outfit in front raised their arm before the grid came under starters orders, once the lights went out they got a good start, Ste held back ensuring they got away cleanly. The new gearing was proving much better, keeping in touch with the pack, and passing Wallford/Sallah into Park Corner on the brakes… Dave was happy.
Onto the 2nd lap, and the boys got caught behind the F1 outfit #19 of Macbride/Thomson. Whilst they made great use of their 1000cc powerhouse down the straights, they lacked the confidence in the corners. It became a frustrating game of cat and mouse, with Macbride/Thomson pulling away down the straights, but Ste & Dave closing the gap into the corners.
Following Macbride/Thomson for two laps, allowed Wallford/Sallah seized the opportunity making a pass over the top of the mountain, before making a swift pass of Macbride/Thomson going into the Gooseneck. With the leaders now starting to lap, Ste & Dave were unable to follow Wallford through, and again found themselves chasing the F1 for another lap.
Ste made a lunge the next lap round at the Gooseneck, but it was all to late and Wallford/Sallah were nowhere to be seen.
The last lap flag appeared, but it wasn’t plain sailing with Macbride/Thomson making a pass on the inside at Park with some late braking, Ste stuck back immediately, powering through Chris Curve & Gooseneck, putting Macbride/Thomson behind them, where they’d remain.
Not only was it great to be in the mix, albeit towards the back, but the laps times dropped again to 2:04.262… that 2minute lap was within touching distance.
Sunday Race 2
It turned out to be another lonely race, but this time for all the right reasons. It was the last chance Ste & Dave had to get that sub 2min lap, and they were not wasting anytime in trying to smash it.
A blistering start, set the pace, and whilst loosing touch with the pack, they pulled away from the outfits behind. With clear track ahead, the lads kept chipping away. Harder than it sounds without anyone to chase after. The lads felt it was much quicker than Race 1, as they could see the outfit of Macbride/Thomson coming the opposite way in some sections.
The chequered flag dropped, and the team returned to the paddock, it was the moment of truth: 2:01.212. 1.212 seconds of a 2minute lap. Not to be disappointed with that, as the lads had knocked 9seconds off their qualifying time, had learnt a new circuit, and enjoyed some great racing.
Well both Ste & Dave can’t wait to get back to Cadwell Park. Dave strangely found the Left/Right onto the mountain the most enjoyable, followed by a few wheels going light over the top. The weekend boosted Ste’s confidence no end, and the team learnt more about the outfit and how to get most from it.
A massive thank you to BEMSEE, the Marshall’s, medics, and everyone who made the weekend so enjoyable.
Ste, Dave & all the team send their best to the riders injured in incidents over the weekend, and wish you all a speedy recovery.
Next stop… Darley Moor.