Fresh from his World Championship success in Croatia, Tim Reeves dominated proceedings at round 4 of the Eastern Airways British F1 Sidecar Championship at the weekend. Competing at the Knockhill circuit in Scotland, Tim and passenger Ashley Hawes comfortably won both of the 18-lap races to ensure their winning spree continued.
Having taken pole position around the 1.27-mile venue by 0.852s, the duo were in confident mood going into Saturday afternoon's 18-lap race although the mixed weather conditions meant it wasn't going to be straightforward. The threat of rain was never far away but, after shadowing Scott Lawrie/James Neave on the opening lap, Tim and Ashley moved ahead a lap later and promptly began to pull away. With slight rain falling at mid-race distance, the running order was shuffled as the pace was eased slightly but Tim and Ashley were able to continually extend their lead and they took the chequered flag and the victory by a commanding 12.4s.
The weather was considerably better for Sunday afternoon's encounter and this time, Tim and Ashley grabbed the holeshot to lead the pack round at the end of the first lap. They again opened up a gap over the rest of the field but when the safety car was deployed on the third lap, the pack bunched up once more. Four laps later, the race resumed and with a series of laps faster than their rivals, Tim and Ashley led by over six seconds going into the final third of the race. Driving to his pit signals for the last few laps, Tim was able to bring the outfit home 4.7s clear of second placed Roger Lovelock/Rick Lawrence for his second win of the weekend.
The double victory and 50 points has elevated the duo to fifth in the Championship table.
Speaking at the end of the meeting, a delighted Tim said; "It's been a faultless weekend and with pole position, two wins and two fastest laps, it really couldn't have gone any better! After a successful week on the continent at Hungary and Croatia, the outfit's working exactly as I want it to and it's flying now so a double victory just adds to the momentum we're building right now. I could see conditions were a bit iffy on Saturday so decided to go for it from the start and build up a decent lead just in case the rain fell and the plan worked. There were a few spots but nothing to cause us any problems so it was a great start to the weekend."
"The whole of Sunday was dry, which was perfect for everyone, and although the safety car bunched us all up for a few laps, I was confident I could make the break again when we got going. I made the break and was able to control the race from the front, driving to my signals and just going at the pace required. The World Championship's my main aim this year but it's great to come back and race in front of the a big British Championship crowd once more so a big thanks to Ashley and to the whole team for doing a great job again all weekend."
In front of his local fans, Cookstown/BE Racing team leader John Burrows took two top three finishes on the 3.3 miles Bush circuit which is located just a few miles from his Carland home near Dungannon.
Had it not been for some bad luck, Burrows could have had top three results in every race he competed in, but he was satisfied with his day's work which took place in front of his local Supporters Club and local sponsors who included sausage supremos Cookstown, David Campbell of Kronos Audio Visual and H2 Engineering who were also the Bush event's title sponsor.
Burrows' first race of the day was the Supertwins race and on the Cookstown/KBM Kawasaki 650 he took third, just 2.8 seconds behind winner Ryan Farquhar. Burrows was disappointed not to get second place.
He said: "I followed Jamie Hamilton for a long time before snatching second from him on the last lap. However, Hamilton successfully retaliated at the very last corner and beat me to the line by half a second. Maybe I should have waited until the last corner before making my move."
In the Supersport 600 race Burrows rode really well but had nothing to show for his efforts as he explained: "The Moira Club's 600 Honda has a little electrical fault which occasionally causes it to die when you let the clutch out and it did it at the start of the Supersport race. However, she quickly fired up again and I cut my way through the pack until I caught Derek Sheils who was in second place behind Farquhar. The Honda has a superb chassis and was handling perfectly.
"Derek and I had a great battle and we exchanged second place a number of times. I felt I had all his moves covered but on the last lap I lost the front end at Cranston's Corner and crashed out. I was really disappointed because I felt I had ridden really well to come up to second from way back at the start."
With conditions damp, Burrows opted to use the Moira 600 in the Senior Championship race in preference to his GSXR 1000. Unfortunately, the bike again stalled at the start and Burrows was last away. With a wet front tyre on a drying track Burrows salvaged fifth position at the chequered flag.
He commented: "A wet front tyre was the wrong choice and considering that I gave everybody a head start fifth wasn't a bad result. We are going to change the battery on the Honda to see if that cures the stalling problem."
The big Cookstown/BE Racing GSXR 1000 was wheeled out for the feature Grand Final and Burrows put the extra power to good use, taking second position behind Farquhar.
Burrows said: "It was good to see the big lady going well after the problems we had with her at the Mid-Antrim. I got a great start and was always comfortable in second place. At one point I was eight seconds ahead of Hamilton but I eased back in the closing stages which allowed him to reduce the gap to four seconds, but I was never in any danger of being caught.
Keen to make no mostakes in the Grand Final, Ryan grabbed the lead from the start and promptly pulled away from the rest of the field as he swept to yet another win. The gap on this occasion was 15 seconds with John Burrows taking second as Hamilton claimed a brilliant third, his first podium in the Superbike class. That just left the 125cc/450cc race for Ryan and he not only led the 450cc class but also the 125cc class when the red flag came out due to rain after four laps. The result was taken and so Ryan wrapped up yet another five timer.
Speaking later, a delighted Ryan said: "It's been another great day for me and the team and although conditions were again tricky, the club did a good job in getting every race run so to come away with five more wins is superb. The weather was very up and down, a bit like last weekend's Mid Antrim meeting and so I opted to ride my 600 in the two big bike races as it was a lot more manageable in the conditions. Everything went to plan except for the first Superbike where there was a bit of a hiccup with my pitboard. Going into the final lap, I was given a '+12' board so backed right off and cruised round the first part of the lap.Needless to say, it was a huge shock when Derek came flying by! It was certainly a wake up call and so I tucked in behind him and got by as soon as I could. Luckily, there was enough of the lap to find a way by and I was able to take the win once more - it was a good last lap for the spectators but not for me!"
"The rain had been on and off during the day but it was only in the final race of the day, the 125/400, that it really came on heavy, so it was a good decision to end it early. I was obviously delighted with the wins but also very pleased for Jamie and Paul. Jamie was over the moon with second in the Supertwins race but when he got third in the Grand Final, he was even more chuffed and it was a great result, particularly given the lack of track time he'd had. I loaned Paul the bike as a thank you to him for letting us use his yard, rather than the wet field, and it was a good result for him in his first ever ride on the bike and in the class. Our other team member, Conor Parkhill also won his race at the Mondello Masters so it really has been a great day for KMR Kawasaki. I've got a weekend off now from racing but all the bikes need a good service so I'll be working hard to get them all fully prepared for Skerries in a fortnight's time."
Having qualified in second place, Tim and Ashley were in confident mood going into Saturday's 10-lap 'Sprint' race and with a lightning start, they duly completed the opening lap in first place. As the race wore on, they continually extended their lead and in the end crossed the line for a comfortable win with Markus Schlosser in second and reigning World Champion Pekka Paivarinta in third. Sunday's longer 18-lap race would be a lot tougher in the searing heat and it was Schlosser who grabbed the holeshot this time but by the end of the lap, Tim and Ashley were in front and the duo soon left the rest of the field behind. Finding a good rhythm, Tim never allowed his German rival to get close enough to try a pass and he wrapped up his and Ashley's second win of the weekend in superb style. Third place was taken by Jorg Steinhausen some 22 seconds further back.
A week earlier at Hungaroring, Hungary, Tim and Ashley took a solid third in a race interrupted by rain. Lying in third place at the time of the stoppage, Tim and Ashley found themselves battling with Ben and Tom Birchall in the restart and that allowed Steinhausen and Paivarinta to escape. However, they successfully saw off the challenge of their English rivals to take yet another podium and with four rostrums from the four races held so far, the only team to achieve this feat, they've moved onto 82 points to lead the Championship by 8 points from Paivarinta.
Speaking after the Croatia round, a delighted Tim said: "It's been a great week on the continent for me and to be fair it couldn't have gone much better. The bike's absolutely flying and that, coupled with a lighter passenger, has been the major difference. Mind you, perhaps Ashley's a bit too light as he fell out in practice in Hungary! He's taken so much stick since it happened though that he'll make sure it won't happen again, but, being serious, he's doing a terrific job and I'm delighted for him that he's taken his first World Championship wins. I was pleased with third in Hungary but I think the battle Ben and I had slowed us both down and allowed the front two to escape, if it wasn't for that, we probably could both have run at the front. It was a good podium though and set us up nicely for Croatia."
"It's a really abrasive circuit and with the temperature being around the 35 degree mark, it all came down to who could conserve their tyres the best. In the first race, I just went for it from the start whereas everyone else seemed to take it steady to begin with and that allowed me to make a break - by the time the rest got going, we were well clear and the tyres held out for the 10 laps so it was a great start. In Sunday's longer race, I managed to get by Schlosser towards the end of the first lap and with it being a longer race, we were all taking it steady in the early laps. I got into a good rhythm though and began to edge away and although Markus came with me, I always felt I had enough off a gap to feel secure and when I looked behind on the last lap there were 6 or 7 bike lengths between us so it was very much a case of job done. We're the only team to finish on the podium in every race so far and I think that's going to be crucial this year. There's nothing between the top six crews so whoever can be the most consistent, and can keep racking up the podiums, will be the Champions - and that's what we aim to do!"
JOHN Burrows went to the 2012 Mid-Antrim Road Races determined to make amends for a slightly disappointing Isle of Man TT campaign. Burrows set a target of four top three finishes on the 3.5 miles Clough circuit but he had to settle for two visits to the rostrum after the gremlins that had camped with him for two weeks in the Isle of Man made sporadic visits to County Antrim.
Burrows' day didn't get off to a great start as he had to withdraw from the Senior Championship race after his Cookstown/BE Racing GSXR 1000 developed a gearbox problem on the warm-up lap. Burrows was forced to sit and watch Ryan Farquhar cruise to victory.
Burrows and his crew, which included, for the day, Michael Dunlop and Tyco Suzuki engine builder Stevie Fleming, hoped to have the big Suzuki fixed for the Grand Final but when the engine was opened up, the damage was worse than expected.
Fortunately, Burrows' Superstock ZX10R Kawasaki was at Michael Dunlop's house, just a short drive away from the circuit, and it was rushed to Clough for an unexpected appearance which brought third place in the Grand Final for the Dungannon man behind Farquhar and Derek Sheils.
John said: "I was in second place in the early stages but I had handling problems and when Derek came past me I had to let him go. My Kawasaki was handling like a galloping horse!"
In between the two big bike races Burrows took second place in the Supertwins race on his Cookstown/KBM Kawasaki 650 and fifth in the Supersport 600 race on his Cookstown/BE Racing Yamaha 600.
John commented: "I had to settle for second in the Supertwins race as I made the wrong tyre choice. I opted for full wets but it was drying quickly and Farquhar, who went for a dry rear/intermediate front combination, was able to disappear into the distance with ease.
"In the 600 race I was battling for third place with Derek Sheils when suddenly the bike began to slow. It turned out that the generator had failed and the battery began to drain. I was disappointed at the time to lose the chance of a top three finish but when I look back I was lucky to get fifth as the bike stopped completely after I crossed the finishing line."
Overall, it was a challenging day for Burrows and his Cookstown/BE Racing crew: John concluded: "I came for four rostrum finishes but had to settle for two. However, I felt I was riding well enough and if it hadn't been for bad luck I'm sure I'd have gotten four trips to the rostrum.
"I have to pay tribute to the crew for their efforts on a very difficult day. Simon Otterson, Matty Dickson and Jordan Burrows worked their socks off and my two guest spannermen, Michael Dunlop and Stevie Fleming, earned their corn too."
Sunday's second 18-lap encounter around the tight and twisty course saw more favourable conditions and it was Reeves/Hawes who grabbed the holeshot on this occasion. Clarke/Graham were out of luck once more though as they put their outfit on its roof on lap three, fortunately without injury, and this brought out the safety car for a period of four laps as the incident was cleared. When the race resumed under green flag conditions, Reeves again opened up a gap over his pursuers and on lap 12, Lovelock was able to move up to second when Lawrie ran wide. Meanwhile, there was a similarly close battle for fourth with Bell getting past James at the hairpin.
As the race negotiated its final third, the front three of Reeves, Lovelock and Lawrie maintained their positions and it was left to the second part of the top six to provide the changes with James/Lawson moving up to fourth and Holland/Watson pushing Bell/Belsey back to sixth at the chequered flag. Peach/Richardson, Bygrave/Knapton, Reuterholt/Aalto and Kershaw/Wilson rounded out the top ten.
The results mean that Lovelock/Lawrence continue to head the table with 156 points, their advantage over Holland/Watson now 45 points. Lawrie/Neave are only four points further back in third followed by James/Lawson (85), Reeves/Hawes (84) and Bygrave/Knapton (52).