NORTHWICH’S multiple and reigning British F2 Sidecar champion Pete Founds and his passenger Jevan Walmsley began their defence of the title at a wet and windy Croft at the weekend.

The team, who are hoping to secure an unprecedented seventh title, were also looking to get the bike ready for this year’s Isle of Man TT, which starts at the end of May.

Saturday morning would allow the teams 15 minutes for a free practice session but with heavy overnight rain, the track was anything but grippy.

Nevertheless, the FHO Racing Honda on slicks wasn’t deterred and showed its pace as it topped the time sheets.

With the weather improving slightly when qualifying arrived, the track was still damp in some areas but it was again slicks for the No 72 machine and at the end of the session, it was Founds and Walmsley on pole – a brilliant marker for the new season.

After a few hours’ wait for the race, the weather had improved but only on the rain front – the wind was still really strong but with no safety concerns, it was good to go.

As the lights went out, Founds made his trademark lightning start and kept his position into the first corner, but he had current World F1 Sidecar champions Todd Ellis and Emmanuelle Clemont right behind him and former British Champions Lee Crawford and Scott Hardy, who had also made a rapid start, in third.

After two laps, the No 17 bike had passed the Ellis-Clemont bike and was chasing down Founds and Walmsley and after two more laps had caught and passed them, but then unfortunately the No 72 bike bottomed out at the chicane and the chain popped off.

That was the end of the race for Pete and Jev and the bike rolled to a halt at the side of the track with no drive – not a great start to the season but they would certainly be looking to make amends in the second race on the Sunday.

Before said second race, the teams would have a 15-minute warm up session for which the track was dry although the wind remained strong.

With Pete and Jev further down the field than they would normally be for the second race, they were always going to be up for the challenge.

As the lights went out the No 72 bike lit up its tyres and was off like a rocket and before long, the duo were up into second place, but that was as far as they would get as the No 17 bike of Crawford and Hardie took their second win of the weekend by over six seconds.

With no more FSRA rounds before the TT, Pete and Jev are participating in the Oliver’s Mount event at Scarborough and an event at Mallory Park on May Bank Holiday so their bike is in tip-top condition for their trip to the Isle of Man.

The FSRA rounds resume at the end of June at Anglesey.

Northwich Guardian:

Northwich Guardian: