August 8/9th will go down in history as the weekend the long wait for British Championship sidecar racing action ended. This has truly been a season to remember for the wrong reasons. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted around the world and decimated sport in general. We are thrilled to be once again able to get outfits on track fighting for the championship albeit in a truncated season.
There have been many changes over the winter months in terms of team line-ups. At the time of going to press, no fewer than ten drivers have a change of passenger. This alone will add spice to what is bound to be an exciting season, and the most high-profile of those is former champion Steve Kershaw who takes on board former double championship winning passenger Ryan Charlwood.
We are delighted to have the ongoing support of Avon Tyres our approved tyre supplier for the revised 2020 season. The relationship with Avon is well established, and they are a vital component in sidecar racing worldwide.
The opening round at Cadwell Park is the first time we will see our friendly Avon colleagues and at every round thereafter.
We are, however, anxious to make all teams aware that for the Knockhill date (September 19/20) the large Avon truck will not be heading North. They will service our needs from a smaller vehicle carrying a representative supply but will not have unlimited stock on board.
Teams are therefore advised to consider their potential needs and maybe make use of the large Avon stock at the preceding round at Snetterton BSB.
Not long to wait now boys and girls, Cadwell Park approaches.
There can be no denying that what the world is going through with the Coronavirus pandemic right now, is something none of us has ever lived through before.
We have all heard our parents and grandparents waxing lyrical about the hardships that “The War” brought to their daily lives. Indeed Uncle Albert from Only Fools and Horses coined the phrase “durin’ the war” to the constant annoyance of Rodney and Del Boy.
From Barry Nutley
There can be no denying that what the world is going through with the Coronavirus pandemic right now, is something none of us has ever lived through before. We have all heard our parents and grandparents waxing lyrical about the hardships that “The War” brought to their daily lives. Indeed Uncle Albert from Only Fools and Horses coined the phrase “durin’ the war” to the constant annoyance of Rodney and Del Boy.
The unprecedented changes and restrictions being imposed on us are hard to take, but we all understand the reasons why. We have hitherto lived our lives in our own bubble of protected and precious existence whatever form that might take, and for those of us in this great circle of sidecar racing, it is a special bubble. We have seen the unimaginable happen in the sporting world with Premier League and International football matches cancelled or postponed indefinitely. The mighty Formula One, MotoGP, the Isle of Man TT and World Superbike, along with all other major sporting events where large crowds gather, have all been put on the back burner until goodness knows when. The British Superbike Championship, with whom we run our series, will make those decisions on our behalf, and theirs is not an easy task. Stuart Higgs and his team have tough calls to make over the next few weeks, and we can only watch and wait.
I am, and always have been, a purveyor of joy and hope – ever the optimist, and I would like to say to you right now that if you sit tight for a couple of weeks, it will be business as usual. But the bottom line is that we simply do not know when this will end, so we must stay ready, remain positive and aim for the golden moment when the wheels turn again in anger.
We’re all dressed up, raring to go, and the party has yet to start – but it will. We have championships to fight for, both British and World, and we have the third running of the absolutely brilliant Cadwell Sidecar Revival to look forward to. The anticipation will only get stronger, and when we return to action – what fantastic action it will be.
Stay strong everyone, stay positive and keep out of trouble, but above all, follow the common sense Government guidelines, and we will all be together on the grid once restrictions are lifted. Meanwhile, keep polishing and dreaming.
The RKB-F1 team wishes you all the very best through this difficult time.
It has been a long, wet winter, but the wait is almost over.
Before the teams assemble at the Oulton Park Circuit in Cheshire for the opening round, most of them will have spent an exhausting off-season building new machinery, and many will also have taken the annual pilgrimage to Val de Vienne for pre-season testing.
The registered number of teams for the series at the time of going to press, sits at twenty-five, with virtually all of those indicating a full season.
Add to those numbers any late entries, and the inevitable wild-cards from overseas, and it is a very promising line-up for British Championship honours.
Whilst reigning World Champions Tim Reeves and Mark Wilkes once again are placing sole focus on the FIM World Championship, now also promoted by RKB-F1, the former World Champions and multiple TT winners Ben and Tom Birchall have announced their intention to stay here in the UK to concentrate on their LCR chassis business, the Isle of Man TT, and the Molson Group series.
This is good news for British fans, and will give the Mansfield based brothers a real chance to lift the title with consistent UK appearances. Apart from 600cc Cup success in 2016, the British premier sidecar championship has hitherto not been high on their list or priorities.
The increased profile of sidecar racing in the UK, and the wide exposure given by the live Eurosport TV coverage, has resulted in a far greater sense of achievement and reward for those crews who aspire to be champions.
There is however, an ever-increasing number of crews lining up to claim the prize.
Among them, the Santander Salt sponsored outfits of reigning champions Todd Ellis and Charlie Richardson, and 2018 champion Steve Kershaw, who is breaking in a new passenger in the shape of the very enthusiastic and capable Jason Pitt.
Both these teams will be combining the domestic challenge with a full onslaught for FIM World honours.
The same is true of the Silicone Barnes Racing outfits of John Holden/Jake Lowther and Lewis Blackstock/Paddy Rosney. The distinctive blue and white livery of these crews was omni-present at the sharp end of the British Championship last season, so expect nothing less in 2020.
A second consecutive season following a year out with injury is very much on the cards for Chris Walker and Ashley Hawes. The TAG Racing Yamaha duo were really in the groove at the end of last year, and Chris is hungry for victory. The former Superbike and solo star has yet to climb to the top step of the podium, but the signs are all there that 2020 could be the year that happens. Walker and Hawes will also be targeting selected World rounds, so the British presence on the FIM stage will be a strong one.
Former double champions Ricky Stevens and Ryan Charlwood have ended any speculation about their future together, by once again lining up in Kawasaki colours as part of the Massingberd Mundy official Green Team. They are keen to reclaim the titles they won on the 1000cc bike, being strong advocates of the successful move to 600cc power. Expect also to see them doubling up with World Championship rides where they see fit. Team-mate is once again Ben Holland, who this year is joined by Jed Pilmoor-Brady. A former regular at the front, Ben has lost none of his speed, and shows a real passion to get back in the winning groove.
Young talent comes in the form of Tommy Philp, now partnered with Tom Bryant. Sponsored by Roberts Construction and Tops Autos, the Yamaha pair showed their worth as newcomers towards the end of last season, and will almost definitely be among the front runners from the word go this year.
Rob Biggs and Jeroen Schmitz are another young pairing with huge potential, and are now well accustomed to each other and the Taurus Tools outfit, although they are now favouring Yamaha power over the tried and trusted Honda CBR 600.
There is now strength in depth all down the field with a strong blend of experience and youthful talent. Thirty crews on most grids will indeed be a spectacle, and as the final plans are put in place for the new season, it is truly a mouth-watering prospect lying ahead of us.
We will be previewing the opening round at Oulton Park shortly, and updating you with any last-minute changes and rider additions.
Meanwhile, work goes on behind the scenes to fine-tune and tweak what will undeniably be a stellar year for sidecar racing both here and on the world stage.