John Holden and Andy Winkle (D&A Walmsley LCR Suzuki) began their quest for the British Championship in fine style with two wins at the opening round at Cadwell Park.
However, the two-day event was full of drama with engine failures, passengers losing their grip and red flags as well as two quite superb races with new lap records.
Sunday morning's free practice and qualifying had its fair share of incident. Geoff Smale and Sharon Brireton (Ringnalda Nanotec DMR Honda) suffered an engine blow-up and their sudden decrease in speed going up to Charlie's caused the following Holden to brake sharply.
But Roy Hanks and Dave Wells (Dorwingear Ltd Molyneux Suzuki) couldn't avoid going into the back of Holden's outfit and in particular, passenger Winkle. Andy was shaken but not injured as were the four passengers who fell out at the bottom of the Mountain during qualifying.
That session saw Holden secure pole from Tim Reeves and Patrick Farrance (Eastern Airways LCR Suzuki) making their British F2 Sidecar Championship debut, by just seven hundredths of a second. But engines 'letting go' or threatening to, ruled out both Reeves and fifth qualifiers Nick Crowe and Mark Cox (A&J Groundworks LCR Honda) from the first race.
Holden led from the line with 2005 champions Tony Elmer and Darren Marshall (AS Broadley-Decorators Ireson Yamaha) in a clear second place. Behind them came Gary Horspole and Scott Parnell (Sleaford Plant Hire LCR Honda) and Conrad Harrison and Lee Patterson (Printing Roller Services Shelbourne Honda), but as the race developed, Harrison came under increasing pressure from reigning champion Simon Neary.
Neary, now with Jamie Winn in the chair of their Neary Racing Baker Suzuki took Harrison on lap five and from then on, the leading positions were unchanged with Holden maintaining a lead of six to seven seconds over Elmer.
Behind the leading five was an excellent dice with Ian and Carl Bell (Bell M/cs LCR Yamaha) holding off Dougie Wright and Stu Bond (Eddy Wright M/cs Shelbourne Honda) and Hanks.
This dice and the race came to a halt on the penultimate lap when Wright and Bond parted company at the Gooseneck and the race was red-flagged.
Hanks took sixth from Bell and then came the trio of F2 Cup competitors with Dean Henry and Ian Smith (Magnam Racing Windle Suzuki) in an impressive eighth spot ahead of Steve Coombes and Gary Partridge (Dave Hudspeth Carpets Ireson Honda) and Stephen Kershaw and Robin Wilson (Blinkbonny Quarry LCR Suzuki) in tenth.
The second race on Monday was action-packed to say the least. Both Reeves and Crowe lined up on the grid and these two along with Holden and Elmer took part in a fabulously entertaining five laps – all had a stint in the lead – before the unfortunate Dougie Wright again lost his passenger, this time Martin Hull, and the red flags brought proceedings to a halt.
The restart unfortunately only lasted a matter of seconds. Holden was slow off the line and as Elmer and Crowe surged past, the field bunched up incredibly into Coppice and up to Charlie's. Somehow the leaders all got round but Roger Stockton and Pete Alton (Weston Motorcycles Baker Yamaha), Hanks and Kershaw all went for the same space. Kershaw was forced wide onto the grass.
The outfit skidded at first then overturned hitting the barrier. Kershaw was relatively unscathed but passenger Robin Wilson was taken to Lincoln Hospital where he subsequently had an operation to plate his arm.
It was decided that the third attempt to run the race would take place after the lunch break. But there was still more drama. After the warm-up lap, Tim Reeves sped in to pit lane and made adjustments and prepared to start from the back of the field.
This time Holden took advantage of his pole position with Crowe right in his wheeltracks. Elmer, Harrison, Horspole and Neary followed but Reeves was out. Fearing another engine blow-up they called it a day.
An exacting weekend for Tim and his support team. No change on lap two but first Holden broke the lap record then Crowe improved it, ending with 1 minute 38.63 seconds.
Elmer and Harrison hung on but Neary had taken Horspole and was closing on Harrison. Holden and Crowe continued with never more than 0.64 sec between them until the penultimate lap when Crowe's Honda cried enough.
Holden relatively cruised to his second win ahead of Elmer and Neary. A typical late surge from Hanks saw him in fourth ahead of leading F2 Cup team, Coombes and Partridge who had set a new Cup lap record of 1min 40.17secs. Horspole and Harrison were sixth and seventh, with Henry scoring another eighth.
So, after the opening two races Holden leads the championship on 50 points from Elmer and Neary with 40 and 29 respectively. The F2 Cup sees Coombes and Henry tied on 45 with David Lillee and Lee Watson third on 26.
Race One: 11 Laps, 23.87 miles
1. John Holden/Andy Winkle(Suzuki)78.03mph
2. Tony Elmer/Darren Marshall (Yamaha)
3. Gary Horspole/Scott Parnell (Honda)
4. Simon Neary/Jamie Winn (Suzuki)
5. Conrad Harrison/Lee Patterson (Honda)
6. Roy Hanks/Dave Wells (Suzuki)
7. Ian Bell/Carl Bell (Yamaha)
8. Dean Henry/Ian Smith (Suzuki)
9. Steve Coombes/Gary Partridge (Honda)
10. Stephen Kershaw/Robin Wilson (Suzuki)
11. Roger Stockton/Pete Alton (Yamaha)
12. Mick Harvey/Steve Taylor 9Suzuki)
13. Stephen Carey/Paul Lowther(Yamaha)
14. David Lillee/Lee Watson (Yamaha)
15. Matt Williams/Jo Williams (Suzuki)
Fastest Lap: Holden/Winkle 1:39.29 79.04mph
Race Two:10 Laps, 21.7 miles
10 Tony Thirkell/Nigel Barlow (Honda)
11.Geoff Hand/Dipash Chauhan(Honda)
14 Alan Langton/Lee Cain (Yamaha)
Fastest Lap: 1:38.63 79.57mph (Record) -Nick Crowe/Mark Cox (Honda)