WHITBY sidecar racer Dave Atkinson sped to a hat-trick of podium finishes at the start of a brand new series for the Formula II Euro F600 Sidecar Championship.
The event, hosted by Thundersport GB at Mallory Park, saw Atkinson and passenger Phil Knapton hungry for the challenge.
The racers and the bike were prepared for the battle as over the winter period the bike, a 2008 LCR Suzuki, had improvements made which meant it would be one of the most competitive bikes out on circuit.
With a healthy starting grid of top racers from across the UK and as far away as Germany, it promised to be an exciting battle to see who would end the weekend victorious.
Saturday qualifying saw an epic battle for pole between two Yorkshire-based teams, with AWR taking the battle to Simon Neary and Dipash Chauhan. Pole position was swapped a number of times throughout qualifying with AWR missing out by only one 7,000th of a second.
Saturday afternoon saw only one race for the sidecar championship and it was all systems go to see who could stamp their mark on virgin race territory.
During the warm-up lap, a freak accident saw the highly rated pairing of Gary Bryan and Gary Partridge somersault their outfit due an unknown mechanical error, narrowly missing Dave and Phil.
The racers were immediately ordered back to the paddock while medical teams treated both Garys at the scene. They came away with only minor injuries.
These upsetting turn of events took some of the sparkle out of the restarted race as the riders had an element of their concentration dedicated to the wellbeing of two of their fellow racers.
After an excellent start Neary and Chauhan, the bookies favourites, took the bull by the horns and set off on a mission. Although never losing site of the front runners Dave and Phil couldn’t reel in the circuit lap record holders, finishing 11 seconds behind them. This however for team AWR was an excellent end to the first days racing, to take a podium spot against tough competition was victory in itself.
Sunday’s first race saw a repeat of Saturday’s proceedings, with Team AWR hot on the heels of Neary and Chauhan.
Once again with a superior bike and new tyres Simon and Dipash maintained their lead but team AWR took a well deserved second place and another podium finish.
The last race of the day saw a lively start from a number of outfits, with former British champion Bill Curie being given a 10 second penalty for a jump start.
With all the tussling on the grid it saw Atkinson and Knapton drop a position back to third as the well respected Conrad Harrison successfully challenged for second place into the first corner.
Not to lose a full suit of second places, Dave and Phil fought hard to reclaim their position but by the time they had succeeded, the gap between Simon and Dipash and themselves was irreversible so once again team AWR bought back second place to take a clean sweep of second place podium positions for the weekend.
The team was delighted with the results, to have three second places behind the the circuit lap record holder who has a considerably faster bike and excellent level of support.
It is now on to the next round of the Championship at Donington Park on 8-10 April and to challenge the current point leaders to try to claim the overall championship title if funding allows.
The first round of Euro F600 Sidecar Championship will be televised on Motors TV later this month.