British F1 Sidecar Championship News

Round 4 - Birchall does the double but Reeves extends Championship lead

Snetterton, Norfolk played host to round 4 of the British F1 Sidecar Championship at the weekend and it was Ben and Tom Birchall who dominated proceedings. Returning to the series for the first time since the opening round in April, the Nottinghamshire brothers took the opening two races and were looking to make it a hat trick until they retired from Sunday's third and final race. That allowed reigning champions Tim Reeves and Gregory Cluze to grab the win and extend their Championship lead further.

Competing on the new 2.97-mile Snetterton 300 circuit for the first time, it was Reeves and Cluze who claimed pole position by almost a second thus earmarking them as favourites for Saturday's 7-lap race but the Birchalls had other ideas and, after grabbing the holeshot, they were never to be headed. Reeves occupied second throughout but he had no answer to the flying Birchalls whose fastest lap was a staggering 1.2s quicker than Reeves. Andy Peach/Charlie Richardson were equally safe in third but the battle for fourth kept the crowd on their toes with Ben Holland/Lee Watson, Barry James/Jamie Winn, Scott Lawrie/James Neave, Ben Bygrave/Calum Lawson and Roger Lovelock/Rick Lawrence all fighting it out. Positions changed hands on every lap but at the chequered flag, when it mattered most, it was Lovelock who took fourth just 0.4s clear of Holland. Lawrie and Bygrave slipped back slightly in the closing stages and had to settle for sixth and seventh whilst problems on the last lap meant James dropped from 5th to 9th, John Clarke/Stuart Graham taking eighth.

Sunday's opening race, this time held over the slightly longer distance of 9 laps, followed a similar pattern with the Birchalls again hitting the front on the opening lap, a lead they were never to relinquish. The duo were in imperious form and took their second victory of the weekend by over 11 seconds. Behind, Reeves made a sluggish start and was back in fourth at the end of the opening lap but he gradually moved his way past Peach and Lawrie to take second although he then had to do it all over again as problems on lap 3 dropped him back to sixth. He finally secured second for good on lap 6 but was powerless to do anything about the Birchalls as Lawrie held off Lovelock for the final podium spot. Holland was again in fifth with Bygrave, Phil Bell/Ashley Hawes and Clarke rounding out the top 8, Peach and James both early retirements.

The final race of the weekend, for once, saw the Birchalls fail to hit the front on the first lap and, instead, it was Lawrie who led the field round with Reeves heading the chasing pack from Lovelock and Holland, the Birchalls back down in fifth. By lap 3 the first three were still running nose to tail with Birchall now up to fourth but that was as good as it got and they were forced out a lap later. Back at the front and Reeves took over the lead on lap 4 from Lawrie, Lovelock and James and it was the latter who took the challenge to the current Championship leader, having heroically fought his way through from last on the grid. Up to 2nd on lap 5, there was little to choose between the top 2 but Reeves held on to take the victory by just 0.575s.

The battle for third went the way of Lovelock with Holland coming through to take fourth ahead of Lawrie, with just 1.2s covering the group fighting it out for 5th to 8th with Bygrave, Clarke and Peach crossing the line right in Lawrie's wheeltracks.

At the half way stage of the Championship, Reeves continues to lead the way on 230 points and that gives him a 93-point lead over Lawrie who's still in second on 137. They're followed by Lovelock (119), Bell (105), Peach (104) and James (97).

There's now a month's break before the next round with Cadwell Park, Lincolnshire hosting round 5 on the weekend of August 13/14.

Phil Wain: Freelance PR

Photos from Round 4 - Snetterton 300

Copyright: Photos: Mark "Wally" Walters

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