After a difficult 2017 season the Portsmouth based Quattro Plant JG Speed fit Kawasaki sidecar team have made a major change for the forthcoming 2018 season. After finishing third in last year’s championship the 2015 and 2016 British Champions with Portsmouth driver Ricky Stevens and Dover based passenger Ryan Charlwood have regrouped over the winter.
They now have a new title sponsor in the form of Quattro Plant who have been involved with the team for several years. Quattro Plant is an infrastructure specialist providing services to the rail, road and construction industries at locations throughout the UK.
The major change is in their Kawasaki powered sidecar where they have changed from a 1000 cc ZX10 Kawasaki powered machine to a 600cc ZX6 Kawasaki engine. They could have continued for another year with the more powerful 1000cc engine, however as the World Championship is now only for 600cc machines as will the 2019 British Championship. This has been decided over several years by the governing bodies to bring the costs down for the teams.
The 1000cc engines were sold and 600cc engines purchased. The same chassis can be used, and a new engine was fitted by the Birchall brothers who are the reigning World Champions and have been using the 600cc engine successfully for several years.
The team decided to make the jump now which would give them the opportunity to compete at some World Championship rounds and also to give them a full year’s experience on the 600cc at the ten round British Championship before the first full 600cc year in 2019.
Prior to making the decision Ricky had spoken to the Finnish multiple World Champion Pekka Paivarinta who has made the change to the 600cc engine. Pekka gave him great advice on the differences in handling and power output.
With Ryan fully fit after his nasty ankle injury, which made him miss the last round at Brands Hatch in October 2017, the pair competed at the beginning of March at a club meeting at Brands Hatch.
They soon found out the machine was different to ride with a different power delivery, especially on corners. As Ricky said, “It was an enjoyable start, but we have a lot to learn, but we’re up for it.”
They will continue the testing over the week starting on Monday 19th March at Val de Vienne in France. As the team manager Paul Kapton says, “The week in France is a great opportunity with the amount of track time they will have to know exactly what the machine will do before the start of the season on April 13th at Brands Hatch. Last year was difficult for them with the result and the injury to Ryan but I have no doubt they will soon be back to their best”