Quattro Plant Kawasaki concluded their British Championship season at Brands Hatch at the weekend and it proved to be a successful two days of action as Ricky Stevens/Ryan Charlwood clinched the Hyundai Heavy Industries British Sidecar Championship for the second successive season.
Driving the Quattro Plant Cool Kawasaki, the duo qualified in second place for Saturday’s opening race behind Championship rivals Tim Reeves/Gregory Cluze and although they briefly slipped back to fourth they were soon up to third and the three podium positions were extremely hard fought. Reeves and Cluze grabbed the win from Ben Holland/Lee Watson by 0.051s with Ricky and Ryan just two tenths of a second further back in third.
It meant they went into Sunday’s final race of the season with a 29-point advantage over Reeves/Cluze although wet weather meant the eight lap race was a nervy affair for all concerned. Reeves and Cluze again took the win but third place overall for Ricky and Ryan was enough for them to win the Championship by eleven points and they ended the season with an impressive four wins and 17 podiums from the twenty races.
British Superbike Championship riders Luke Mossey and Filip Backlund didn’t have the best of days on Saturday and although the former qualified in third place, he could only finish 13th in the wet, 15-lap race that was held later in the day. It was even worse for Swedish rider Backlund though as he crashed out at high speed along with Howie Mainwaring Smart and although he suffered no broken bones his 2016 season ended there and then.
Sunday again saw damp conditions around the 2.4-mile circuit although a dry line was rapidly appearing for the first 20-lap race. Luke had to start from the sixth row of the grid and was back in 15th place at the conclusion of the first lap but a series of good overtaking manoeuvres saw him up to tenth by lap six.
The Cambridge rider was pushed back to 12th with just a handful of laps to go but with less than four seconds covering nine riders positions were changing all the time and he fought his way back up to tenth at the chequered flag. That left just the final race of the season to negotiate and this became a ten lap sprint after an oil spill caused the original race to be stopped. It was another hectic race and on this occasion Luke claimed ninth place to end his year with another top ten finish and an excellent sixth place overall in the Championship table.
Ricky Stevens (British Sidecar):
Ricky Stevens: “We’re absolutely over the moon to be 2016 British Champions but it was certainly hard work especially in Sunday’s race where conditions were treacherous – it was the longest eight laps we’ve ever had! It was a long weekend and up and down throughout but we got the job done and being champions is all that matters. A big thank you to all our sponsors and roll on 2017 where we’ll be looking to make it three in a row.”
Pete Extance, Team Owner: “It’s absolutely brilliant that the sidecar squad have retained their British Sidecar Championship and the whole team have worked hard all year. They’re such a professional outfit and have gained their reward so we’re really proud of what the boys have achieved and we’re delighted to have the team’s first ever British Championship. For the Superbike boys it was a tough weekend especially for Filip who had an unfortunate crash, through no fault of his own, in race one which put him out for the rest of the weekend. We wish him a speedy recovery and look forward to seeing him back in the paddock in 2017.”
“Luke’s weekend started well with a good qualifying performance but he lost a lot of time in race one when Jason O’Halloran crashed in front of him and he had to run off track. He fought his way through to 13th and then scored two solid top ten finishes on Sunday. We’re extremely pleased with sixth overall in the Championship and a Showdown position so we’re looking forward to more of the same in 2017. The team’s plans for next year are currently being finalised and we’ll hopefully be able to announce everything at the NEC next month.”