After a delay following an earlier crash in the Superstock 600 race, the Sidecar race started late in the evening. It was an emotional line up with everybody aware that it was Steve Webster's final ever Race after a long and distinquished career.
After a delay following an earlier crash in the Superstock 600 race, the Sidecar race started late in the evening.
It was an emotional line up with everybody aware that it was Steve Webster's final ever Race after a long and distinquished career. As the starting lights changed it was French sensations Sebastien Delannoy & Nicolas Bidault who got the best start from the middle of the front row to lead Tim & Tristan Reeves into the first turn with Andy Laidlow & Patrick Farrance storming through from Row Three ahead of Stuart Muldoon & Paul Knapton, with Webbo & Woody back in 5th position.
Half way around the opening lap Webster forced the Carstol-Suzuki passed Muldoon, and then sorted out Laidlow before the end of the lap. Meanwhile Dellannoy continued to head the field as further back Tom Hanks & Phil Biggs were making after ground after a poor start from their 8th position qualifying slot.
As Webster & Woodhead set after the two leaders, he set the fastest lap on lap two of 2:10.69s to close onto the back of Reeves, who in turn had closed on leader Delannoy. But it wasn't to last as the Castrol-Suzuki suddenly slowed and dropped off of the pace. At the same time Reeves passed the French pair to take the lead. Unfortunately for Webbo the problem was terminal and the pair coasted into Pit-Lane. It wasn't the ending that had been hoped for the final event of two great champions, but they would at least have the consulation of the fastest lap!
As Hanks & Biggs began to make their way through the field, passing first Tero Manninen & Pekka Kuismanen, then Muldoon, and finally Laidlow to move into third position, Reeves was trying to make a break at the front. But the determined Frenchmen were keeping them in sight.
One lap later Laidlow & Farrance were back into 3rd as behind the battle for 4th postion raged between Hanks, Manninen, Muldoon, Dutch favourites Martien & Tonnie van Gils, and Richard Gatt with stand in passenger Mark Cox (after regular crew member Paul Randall broke his arm in a national race four weeks ago).
Behind this group, Bill Philp & Rick Long were heading another tight fight with Dan Morrissey & Biggs on the Team Excalibur Advan LCR-Suzuki, Swede Billy Gällros & passenger Johnny Briggs, and Gary & Dan Knight on the Redline Superbikes machine. Just behind, in their first ever World Championship event Ben Birchall and brother Tom were running in 13th position.
But on lap 8 the Red Flags came out. Gordan Shand & Stuart Graham had spun their LCR-Kawasaki ZXR at Turn 3 and flipped Upside-down, and were in a dangerous position on the track.
The re-start would be over the 6 remaining laps, with the grid lined up from the finishing order of Part One. Before the stoppage Reeves had pulled out nearly 5 second advantage over Delannoy, with Laidlow in 3rd over 6 seconds ahead of Hanks & Biggs after the Birmingham driver had made a mistake and lost time.
With the Final Results to be calculated on total time of both parts, Reeves only needed to keep behind Delannoy to win the race. But as the lights changed for the second time, the SandSeb 72 team machine of Delannoy was struggling to stay still. "The clutch was dragging very bad, and when I put the engine into gear, the sidecar lurched forward" explained Sebastien after the race. Deliberate or not, the jumped start cost the Frenchman a Drive-Through penalty, so any chance of overall victory was gone.
Reeves took the lead as Delannoy slowed, not understanding the Penalty came into the pit lane thinking his race was over. By the time he relaised his mistake, he rejoined the race down in 25th position. Reeves then controlled the race from the front, as Tom Hanks & Phil Biggs closed in, as did Andy Laidlow & Patrick Farrance. Behind, Tero Manninen & Pekka Kuismanen on the Tuusmotor LCR-Suzuki were beginning to close on the leading three.
But at the end of the short 6 laps Reeves crossed the line just 2 tenths of a second ahead of Tom Hanks & Phil Biggs. But Andy Laidlow & Patrick Farrence had managed to keep Hanks in sight, and finished just 5 seconds behind, to claim 2nd position overall in the final standings ahead of Hanks.
Manninen & Kuismanen claimed 4th position ahead of Muldoon & Knapton. Martien & Tonnie van Gils were 5th with Billy Gällros & Johnny Briggs in 6th position. Gary & Dan Knight finished in 7th position overall just 0.13seconds in front of Ben & Tom Birchall, with Rijeka triple winners Pekka Päivärinta & Peter Wall rounding out the top ten.
After the podium ceremonies, all of the teams lined up in Parc Ferme to provide a line of honour to Webbo & Woody. It was a fitting tribute to the end of their careers.