Slovakiaring Welcomes World Sidecars
It seems like only yesterday since the “FIM World Sidecar Championship” teams kicked off their 2018 season in Le-Mans, but that is all in the past. The teams are heading to a new circuit to them. The 5.922km “Slovakia Ring” will welcome the sidecar teams. Opened in 2009, the fast, mainly right hand corner circuit is a short 35km from the capital Bratislava. As like in Le-Mans the sidecars will be supporting the “FIM, Endurance World Championship”.
It was a great race in Le-Mans, the sidecar teams certainly put on a good show for the massive crowd. Although Tim Reeves and Mark Wilkes took the flag to flag race win it was the other top teams who pushed Reeves and Wilkes for the win.
With driver Reeves back in world championship racing after a year away, it was a perfect start for the team. He and passenger Wilkes knew they had a lot to do, they have to them, a new chassis and the change to the 600cc engines is a big change for the team. It was the Birchall Brothers Ben and Tom who were setting the pace all weekend, but Reeves and Wilkes were not too far off the pace. With small tweeks to their chassis over the weekend they were steadily getting up to the lap times that the Birchall Brothers were setting.
Le-Mans saw the Birchall Brothers take pole position. But as the lights went out for the race, they went backwards into the clutches of the following teams. They fought hard to get back up to give Reeves and Wilkes. It turned out that the two teams were pretty evenly matched during the final stages of the race. Reeves/Wilkes were faster in certain parts of the circuit, whilst the Birchall’s faster in others, but overall they were even.
Pekka Paivarinta and Jussi Varavainen took a great third place. Paivarinta with new passenger Varavainen took things steadily in qualifying. This was the first time Varavainen had raced at this level and had never seen the Le-Mans track before. The team worked well together and in the end they were rewarded with the third place.
John Holden and lee Cain took fourth in Le-Mans, a good result for the team. They had a good battle with the fifth place team of Rickey Stevens and Ryan Charlwood. It looked like Stevens and Charlwood would take the fourth place but they hit gearbox problems. This was a return of the problems the team suffered in qualifying. Holden and Cain certainly reaped the benefits of the Stevens/Charlwood problem.
The all Swiss pairing of Lucas Wyssen and Thomas Hofer took a great sixth place. The team were really happy with this result and are looking to continue this trend at the “Slovakia Ring”
Michael Grabmuller and Sebastien Lavorel were happy with seventh, this might have been better though. The team were on the backward foot for most of the weekend. They missed one qualifying session due to a clutch bearing failure, they had to change their engine, but there was not enough time to make the second qualifier.
Slovenian Janez Remse with new passenger, Irishman Eamon Mulholland had a great race with some good battling with Grabmuller and Lavorel. The team, like Reeves and Wilkes, have the new “Adolf RS” chassis. They were really happy with the result and hope that they will be doing the same in the “Slovakia Ring”
A young team who had other teams looking at them was Sam Christie and Adam Christie. The Brothers Christie went to Le-Mans looking for a good race finish with no mishaps. Well they certainly did that. They were consistently in the top five during free practice and Q1. Their final combined qualifying time was to put them seventh on the grid. The team worked away steadily throughout the weekend and they were rewarded with a good ninth place by the end of the race.
Two teams wanting to forget about Le-Mans and get their championship up and running, first is Bennie Streuer and Kevin Rousseau. They had a good qualifying, and were fighting for the lead with Reeves and Wilkes, then were locked in battle with the Birchall Brothers. But they were visibly having handling problems. Driver, Streuer was wrestling his machine trying to stay on track. Lap twelve was the end for the team; their rear tyre was to blow, resulting with the machine going off track and turning upside down. Both Streuer and Rousseau were unhurt in the incident, but a lot of damage to repair. The other team was Scott Lawrie and Michael Fairhurst. They were going well throughout the weekend. It was looking like the team were going to finish in a solid seventh place. However as the team exited the last corner driver Lawrie thought the engine had blown, nothing was happening! The team pulled off track immediately for their DNF. On return to the paddock, it was found that a small stone had entered into the airbox and lodged itself within the throttle bodies. One consolation for the team though is that their engine is okay.
There will be two races at the “Slovakia Ring” Friday the 11th, a seven lap sprint race, and on the Saturday a 13 lap Gold race.