A week of testing in France helped F2 sidecar-racers Giles and Jen Stainton make a positive start to what will be a groundbreaking season for them.
Team SAS (Stainton and Stainton) have embarked on an ambitious assault on the Formula Sidecar Racing Association’s (FSRA) British Championship, which got under way at Oulton Park in Cheshire.
The husband-and-wife team tuned up for the event by travelling over to the Val de Vienne circuit in the south of France. And it paid off as they finished 16th in the opening race of the chamnpionship before improving to 14th in the second race.
The Staintons’ performances were highly respectable considering they are newcomers to the ultra-competitive series, which comprises almost 30 teams.
Now they will be hoping to progress even more when the second round is held at Cadwell Park in Lincolnshire over the Easter weekend.
The couple, who hail from Upton, are in only their second season of competition, although Jen was previously a passenger for another team. They gained valuable experience in their debut campaign in 2016, and decided that no stone would be left unturned for their preparations this time round.
Jen said: “We made the decision last season to kick-start 2017 with a week at this fantastic circuit in the south of France, where teams from across the world gather to test their machines ahead of the new race season.
“With five 20-to-30-minute sessions each day, we managed to run in two engines, learn the track, pick up pace, alter settings on the outfit and build so much as a team.”
On their return to the UK, the Staintons travelled directly to Darley Moor in Derbyshire to make their first competitive appearance of the season, and qualified in ninth place for the opening race of the F2 Sidecar Championship, hosted by the road race club based there.
They acclimatised well to the shorter and narrower track and settled nicely too, feeling the benefit of their time in France and sailing through their first race, finishing in fifth place in their class and tenth overall in the mixed grid of riders.
Full of confidence, the pair went into their second race with the intention of improving on their position, and they did exactly that. They settled in fourth in their class from the start and tailed the group of outfits ahead until they found a space to overtake at the midway stage of the contest.
They continued to chase the remainder of the group until the final corner of the last lap when Giles went to make a pass on the two outfits just ahead.
He made the move stick, and the pair took the chequered flag in a fine third place in class and fourth overall with a best lap time of one minute, six seconds.
Jen said: “We were both delighted with that set of results. I am sure our time in France has made a huge difference to our performance and confidence. Thanks to our friends who went along to Darley Moor to support us, and also to our sponsors, who help to keep us out on the track.”