Louth sidecar passenger Jev Walmsley and driver Pete Founds warmed up for the Isle of Man TT with victory and silverware at Donington Park.
The pair were looking to build on their double win at Snetterton and prepare for the world’s biggest motorcycling festival as they headed to round two of the FSRA ACU British Sidecar Championships.
Pete and Jev were soon back on the pace in the first practice session, setting a best time of 1min 15.447secs at an average speed of 93.37mph around the Leicestershire circuit, more than a second quicker than Pete’s brother and guest rider Alan Founds, and his passenger Jake Lowther.
After making a gearing change and new rear tyre for qualifying, they clocked up 12 consistent laps and saved their best until last.
Their time of 1min 14.525secs was a new lap record, at an average speed of 94.53mph, to give Pete and Jev their second pole position of the season.
After overnight rain had left the track wet in places ahead of race one, they stuck with slicks, but a lightning start from Crawford/Hardie on row two saw them pull alongside Pete and Jev and hit the front at Redgate Corner.
They got their heads down and started to chase down the leaders, but with rain falling in certain sections of the track, conditions started to deteriorate and allowed Crawford/Hardie to pull out a two-second gap.
By the halfway stage of the race, the track began to dry and TF72 closed the gap to just under a second.
Small patches of fine rain continued to fall on specific corners, making the track very unpredictable.
With the gap down to about 0.3secs late in the race, Pete and Jev tried all they could, but Crawford/Hardie had track position and kept the lead to cross the line just 0.2secs in front.
Guest riders Alan Founds and Jake Lowther took a fine third place.
Crawford and Hardie went fastest in free practice for Sunday’s second race, but suspension adjustments were made to Pete and Jev’s outfit, and a new front tyre was fitted.
With the front six lining up in a reverse formation, Pete and Jev rolled in grid slot five.
Pete and Jev, Crawford and Hardie, and Founds and Lowther all headed to the front after lights out, and after some really close racing, the latter pair hit the front first.
They led the chasing pack for two laps with Pete and Jev, and Crawford/Hardie jostling for position behind.
Pete and Jev knew they needed to get past Crawford/Hardie to prevent Founds/Lowther from escaping, and they did this on lap three.
On the next lap they squeezed past the leaders into Redgate Corner as they hit their stride, pulling out a second gap and setting a new lap record of 1.14.147.
Banging in consistent 1min 14secs lap times, Pete and Jev started to pull away helped by an ongoing battle between Founds/Lowther, and Crawford/Hardie.
For the remaining eight laps, their rivals traded places for the rest of the race, allowing Pete and Jev to pull further away and eventually win by six seconds, earning themselves the prestigious Bill Boddice Trophy for a fourth time.
Founds/Lowther finally got the better of Crawford/Hardie to complete the podium.
With the British Championship on hold for a month, the team head off to the Isle of Man next week for the world-famous TT where they will be seeded five at the start.
Jev would like to thank Louth businesses RandY Motors and Parkinsons Fish Shop.