Nick Crowe and Mark Cox (A&J Groundworks LCR Honda) won their third consecutive race in the Yokohama/ACU/FSRA British Sidecar Championship at Brands Hatch after a race long duel with Simon Neary and Stu Bond (Neary Racing Baker Suzuki).
The win extends Crowe's lead in the championship to 16 points over Gary Horspole and Scott Parnell (Sleaford Plant Hire LCR Honda), who finished third. Neary lies third in the title chase, 26 points behind Crowe with two races still to go at the final meeting at Pembrey in October.
Crowe had been fastest in qualifying and led Neary off the line with Roy Hanks and Dave Wells (Dorwingear Ltd Molyneux Suzuki) third and Horspole fourth. Crowe and Neary were soon two seconds clear of the chasing pack and the gap doubled on lap five when first Hanks retired with a blown engine and then Horspole spun at Druids dropping to eighth.
Ian and Carl Bell (Ian Bell M/cs LCR Yamaha) moved up to third ahead of a battling trio comprising of Steve Coombes and Gary Partridge (Dave Hudspeth Carpets Ireson Honda), Phil Dongworth and Jamie Winn (WAS Auto Centre Ireson Honda) and Conrad Harrison and Lee Patterson (Printing Roller Services Shelbourne Honda).
The gap between Crowe and Neary remained around two seconds but their pace was leaving the field well behind – thirteen seconds at half-distance. Dongworth retired as did John Holden and Andy Winkle (D&A Walmsley LCR Suzuki), Holden returning after his injuries in the Southern 100 two months ago. Bell was now being challenged by Coombes while Harrison was under pressure from Horspole.
Crowe continued to control the race from the front, his lead only decreasing when negotiating backmarkers but returning to two seconds when Neary was faced with the same task. Meanwhile, Bell and Coombes were trading places and Horspole had taken fifth from Harrison.
Crowe sped on to a clear victory with Neary a second behind, but Bell had the misfortune to retire on the last lap when his brake lever fell and flicked off the ignition switch.
Horspole and Coombes were now battling for the final podium place
and it went to the former champion when Coombes went off on to the grass at Surtees. The F2 Cup leaders regained the track but lost fourth to Harrison. Wil Smith and Sean Starbuck (Edlington Motors Shelbourne Honda) claimed a good sixth ahead of Tony Baker and Fiona Baker-Milligan (Baker Suzuki), the last outfits not lapped by Crowe and Neary.
Howard Baker and Mike Killingsworth (D&J Bike Spares Shelbourne Honda), Stephen Kershaw and Robin Wilson (Blinkbonny Quarry LCR Suzuki) and Dave Lillie and Lee Watson (Ian Bell M/cs Bell Yamaha) completed the top ten with Dean Lindley and Mark Sayers (Motorcycle Parts Leeds Bellas Yamaha), Matt and Jo Williams (MR Equipe Suzuki) and Geoff Hand and Darren Brown (Hands-On Racing Honda) the remaining points scorers.
Crowe leads the championship on 131 points with Horspole on 115, Neary 105, Hanks 101 and Harrison 92 - the title will go to one of these five at Pembrey on October 19. In the F2 Cup, Coombes leads with 170 from Lillie on 143. Williams leads the chase for third with 92 just ahead of Henry and Lindley on 90 and 85 respectively.
All the teams were grateful to the New Era Club for arranging a parade lap in memory of Steve Norbury, who won this championship in 2006.
Results: 20 Laps, 24.6 miles.
1. Nick Crowe/Mark Cox (Honda) 17m 23.19s 84.63 mph.
2. Simon Neary/Stu Bond (Suzuki)
3. Gary Horspole/Scott Parnell (Honda)
4. Conrad Harrison/Lee Patterson (Honda)
5. Steve Coombes/Gary Partridge (Honda)
6. Wil Smith/Sean Starbuck (Honda)
7. Tony Baker/Fiona Baker-Milligan (Suzuki)
8. Howard Baker/Mike Killingsworth (Honda)
9. Stephen Kershaw/Robin Wilson (Suzuki)
10. Dave Lillie/Lee Watson (Suzuki)
11. Dean Lindley/Mark Sayers (Yamaha)
12. Matt Williams/Jo Williams (Suzuki)
13. Geoff Hand/Darren Brown (Honda)
Fastest Lap: Crowe/Cox 51.42s 85.85 mph.