Ricky Stevens admitted he was ‘gutted’ after he lost his lead at the top of the British Formula One Sidecar Championship.
The Quattro Plant Cool Kawasaki team driver and his passenger, Ryan Charlwood, topped the standings by one point going into the weekend’s fifth round at Thruxton.
But after being forced off the track in Sunday’s race, nearest rivals – multiple world champion Tim Reeves and passenger Greg Cluze – seized the opportunity to move ahead.
That made it a disappointing finish to the weekend for the Portsmouth driver.
Until then, Stevens and Charlwood had won the two previous races at Thruxton and looked set to stretch their lead at the top of the table.
‘We had a brilliant weekend with pole and two wins,’ said Stevens.
‘Lots of sponsors and family were there and to be taken off the track like that was just out of order.
Charlwood added: ‘We were going so well and knew we could get the third win.
‘It’s ruined all the hard work from the team.’
With a clean sweep of victories at the Hampshire circuit last season, Stevens and Charlwood got off to a flier in practice by taking pole position ahead of Reeves and Cluze, and fellow Portsmouth driver Ben Holland and passenger Lee Watson.
And both of Saturday’s races were absolute classics for the large crowd in attendance.
At the start of race one it was a three-way battle between Stevens, Reeves and Holland.
With less than half a second between the three machines at speeds up to 135mph Stevens took the lead on lap five from Reeves.
And they held on to cross the line just over a second in front of Holland and Watson, with Reeves and Cluze third.
The second race was exactly the same, with Stevens and Charlwood taking the lead on lap six, before finishing ahead of their rivals.
Sunday morning’s race was a disaster, though.
Stevens had a superb start, but with less than a lap completed he was forced off the track by Reeves and on to the grass.
They got back on track but had to retire on lap three due to debris being collected in the radiator.
This now leaves them second in the championship – eight points behind Reeves and Cluze.
– John Mushet