“Sidecars head to Germany”
Round two of the FIM Sidecar World Championship will take place at the 3.667km circuit of Oschersleben, the circuit which is situated in the Borde district of Saxony-Anhalt, Germany.
Opened in 1997 as “Motopark Oschersleben” it was then the third permanent racetrack in Germany, the other two being “Nurburgring” and “Hochenheimring”.
This meeting is earlier in the year than previous years, and again the World Sidecars will be supporting the World Endurance Championship for solo machines.
There will be lots of track time for the sidecar teams, and with two races over the weekend a lot of championship points can be had.
Round one at Le-Mans, France, saw the Birchall Brothers, Ben and Tom take a decisive win on their Yamaha powered “LCR”. They had a great weekend; they took the pole position on the grid, the fastest lap in the race and a new lap record. The Brothers certainly let the other sidecar teams know what their intensions are for the 2017 season.
The “Flying Finns” Pekka Paivarinta and Kirsi Kainulainen came away from Le-Mans pleased how things went. With very little, or no testing before round one, Paivarinta and Kainulainen were really testing and setting up their new “LCR” Honda. They were to take second place in France, but they had a great battle with the third place team of Bennie Streuer and Kevin Rousseau. Both teams really enjoyed their battle and they will be hoping to have the same in Oschersleben, but include the Birchall Brothers too.
Kevin Rousseau, passenger to Streuer, will not be fully fit for this meeting. He had an accident competing in his domestic French championship. Rousseau was thrown from the sidecar in which he was passengering, resulting in bone fractures to his right arm. He has had medical surgery, and the fractures have been pinned and plated. With a lot of track time Rousseau could find things hard.
The Austrian pairing of Michael Grabmuller and Sophia Kirchhofer got their season of to a good start with a fourth place in France. They were pleased how things went for them. But they will hope to go better in Oschersleben, they know this circuit well, and they have been on the podium here the last two years.
A welcome return to the sidecar paddock. Scott Lawrie, with new passenger to him, Ben Hughes. The pair took fifth place in France. A lucky fifth. Their Suzuki powered “LCR” machine suffered total electrical power failure. However, the race in France was red flagged, with Lawrie and Hughes sitting in fifth place the lap before the red flag came out, they took the fifth place, despite having to be pushed back into pit lane with the assistance from track marshals.
A great start to the World Championship for the “Rookie” team of Lewis Blackstock and Patrick Rosney on their short chassis “LCR”, Suzuki. The team had never seen the Le-Mans circuit, let alone race it. The team worked well together all weekend and their lap times improved with each visit to the track. They also had some good battles throughout the race. Another new track for them, Oschersleben, but with lots of good track time the team will be going for another if not better result.
Le-Mans was a great debut too for the all-female team of Estelle Leblond and Melanie Farnier. They came to their home GP as a wild card entry. However they certainly gave it their all, and will now be upsetting a few teams as they have entered to race in Oschersleben. The race in Le-Mans saw Leblond and Farnier have some great battles with Blackstock/Rosney and Lawrie/Hughes. A great seventh place left the girls really happy with the weekend. Oschersleben may be even better for the team as it being a tight and technical circuit; their “Suzuki” powered “SGR” chassis may be better suited to the circuit.
Jokob Rutz and Marcel Fries finished in eighth place. The team had a good race in Le-Mans battling with Gunther Bachmair and Manfred Wechselberger until the red flag came out.
The red flag incident in Le-Mans was caused by Bachmair and Wechselberger having a heavy crash on lap 15 of 18. The team went off track taking advertising boarding with them. Passenger Wechselberger was admitted to hospital with foot and hand injuries. He will not be racing in Oschersleben. The Bachmair “LCR” Suzuki was damaged in the incident, but will be all repaired. With Wechselberger out for this race, Bachmair has called up Helen Deeley to help out. Deeley is no stranger to the World Sidecar Championship, she passengered French driver Philippe Gallerne in the 2016 race season.
One team who will be hoping for a better weekend in Oschersleben is John Holden and Mark Wilkes. They looked good all weekend in Le-Mans and it looked if they could have taken the race to the Birchall Brothers. As the lights went out for the race it was Holden and Wilkes who led into the first series of corners. Their “LCR” Kawasaki, with only four laps done developed brake problems resulting with the team having to sit the race out.
Another team making a welcome return is Slovenian Janez Remse, he has had some time away from racing but is back with a new chassis and a new passenger. The “ARS” is another manufacture introducing a chassis to the World Sidecar Championship. Remse has opted to stick with Yamaha power, as he did when he raced before. Also he has recruited New Zealander, Robbie Shorter to passenger for him. Shorter raced with Colin Buckley in the 2015 season, so he is no stranger to the World Sidecar paddock.
There will be two races in Oschersleben.
12 lap sprint race, with full championship points awarded on Saturday. And a 20 lap Gold race on Sunday.