The conclusion of the Hyundai Heavy Industries British Sidecar Championship in association with The Molson Group takes place next weekend 14-16th October with a distinct possibility of a major upset. Reigning champions Ricky Stevens and Ryan Charlwood take their Quattro Plant Cool Kawasaki to the Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit in Kent with a seemingly comfortable forty-seven point cushion over five times world champions Tim Reeves and Gregory Cluze (Team E-Aide Motorsport Remse Racing Yamaha).
Trailing them a further fifteen points back is the Hannafin Kawasaki of Ben Holland and Lee Watson who have had arguably their strongest seasons ever since joining forces with the Rupert Archer/Steve Thomas Hannafin squad. Traditionally, at the final round, double points are on the table, so with fifty available in each of the two races, the pressure is on the reigning champions, who must be acutely aware of the threat from behind.
Astonishingly, the fourth crew in with a mathematical chance of championship success is the Santander Salt sponsored Chris Walker. He and class act Ashley Hawes, have delivered strong points in every single race contested, with eight podiums along the way in their debut season. Walker has spent his rookie year learning the finer points of racing the outfit and has improved race by race to become a real force to be reckoned with. His track-craft and vast superbike race experienced have combined to make him a hard charger and difficult man to pass.
With ten victories, two podiums and one disqualification from the thirteen races contested, Reeves and Cluze are expected to shine at their local track with absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain. The series leaders conversely, have everything to lose and will be heading for glory in the form of two solid finishes. They are expected to run at the front as usual, but they certainly need to stay out of trouble in every sense of the word.
Ben and Tom Birchall will put the gloss on their 600 Cup championship victory by going for the double in the new class aboard the Mitchells of Mansfield long LCR, whilst their three times TT winning short LCR will get an airing at the hands of TT stars Michael Dunlop and Dan Sayle, who with twenty-one TT victories between them, are giving Brands a serious go.
There is a fierce battle developing behind the lead quartet with youngsters Rob Biggs and Ben Ransley leading the charge from the recently injured Rupert Archer, who crashed at Donington Park and is not expected to appear in this final round. He and Steve Thomas have been strong all season, so this development is a huge blow to them both.
Closing in, with some strong rides over the year, Gary Horspole and James Connell definitely have the speed to wind Biggs/Ransley in and will certainly be aware of that possibility. Santander Salt's Gary Bryan who teamed up with Ben Hughes at Assen will have Stuart Ramsey alongside, as tenth placed John Holden is currently finalising passenger plans for his 2017 season to encompass roads and short circuit activity.
Both sidecar races at Brands take place on Saturday with the champions being crowned at the close of play – then let the party begin!