FIM Sidecar World Championship.
Oschersleben, Gold Race Report.
It was a beautiful evening to go racing; the tension could be felt on the grid for the final race of the 2018 “FIM Sidecar World Championship”. It was a depleted field but that did not matter, the top teams were going to do battle for the “World Title”.
Just before the warm up lap all the riders on the front row shook hands, and let the best team win. The lights went out for the 21 lap race, and it was Ben and Tom Birchall with their “LCR” Yamaha who led into the first complex of corners, Tim Reeves and Mark Wilkes with their “Adolf RS” Yamaha were right on the tail of the Birchall Brothers, Bennie Streuer and Kevin Rousseau with their “LCR” Kawasaki were a bike length from the leading pair but they were having to defend hard because the “Flying Finns” Pekka Paivarinta and Jussi Veravainen with their “LCR” Honda were charging hard. There was a small gap then next up was Lukas Wyssen and Thomas Hofer on their “LCR” Yamaha, they had Michael Grabmuller and Sebastien Lavorel on their “LCR” Yamaha, pushing hard, trying to get passed Wyssen and Hofer. Janez Remse and Manfred Wechselberger with their “Adolf RS” Yamaha were next up, but it looked if Remse was having problems from the word go, his machine seemed to be lurching, however the team continued on, they were fending off the “Rookie team” of the year Sam and Adam Christie on their “LCR” Yamaha. Peter Kimeswenger with Jens Lehnertz on their “LCR” Kawasaki were next up with Eero Parm and Mairon Meius with their “LCR” Yamaha right on the tail of Kimeswenger and Lehnertz.
At the front the Birchall Brothers were starting to make a gap between them and Reeves and Wilkes. It looked like Reeves/Wilkes were having problems with their machine, it just did not look like it was handling properly, driver Reeves was trying his hardest to manage the problem, but it was just getting worse, lap six saw Reeves and Wilkes pull into pit lane and straight into their pit garage. What a blow for the team! Fighting for the world crown and it came down to a wheel bearing collapsing on the sidecar wheel. This was to let the Birchall Brothers control the race from the front, and were never threatened for the lead throughout the whole race.
Streuer and Rousseau were having a right “ding dong” battle with Paivarinta and Veravainen, the two teams were fighting hard, Streuer/Rousseau were having to defend their now second place, Paivarinta/Veravainen had seen that Reeves/Wilkes were out, and maybe the same could happen to the Birchall Brothers, could there be a slight chance of the title?
With the Birchall Brothers way out in front, Paivarenta/Veravainen fought hard and managed to get by Streuer/Rousseau, this was just perfect for the “Finns” they had a clear track and could start to get steady lap times in, and try to catch the Birchalls.
There was a great battle going on behind the three leading teams between Wyssen/Hofer and Grabmuller/Lavorel. The two teams were pretty evenly matched speed wise, on the long drag down the start finish straight, the two teams would be side by side, so it was down to who was the bravest in the braking.
The Christie Brothers were to have a lonely race out on their own in sixth place, but this was good for them, they were able to manage their race well.
Kimeswenger/Lehnertz had a good battle with Parm/Meius, their battle was not unlike the battle between Wyssen/Hofer and Grabmuller/Lavorel.
Remse/Wechselberger were still having problems with their machine, they were to enter pit lane with their machine revving very high, there was frantic action in the pit lane from the team, but somehow they managed to repair the problem enough for them to finish the race, albeit they were three laps down. It turned out that the problem was the throttle cable outer had broken going to the throttle body causing it to jam. The team would finish the championship in sixth place overall, and the only team to score points at every round. The team are really happy with how the season has been.
By the end of the race the flag came out for the final time in 2018, and it was the Birchall Brothers, Ben and Tom, punching the air with delight who took the race win and the Championship title. Speaking after the race both Ben and Tom said “Unbelievable, we can hardly believe this; we had written off any chance of winning the title half way through the season, we had machine problems and did not have a good time back then. But look at us now, champions, this is unbelievable, Tim and Mark were very unlucky, they were so strong throughout, we had some great battles with them through the season, as with the other teams. This is so good, what a feeling, the team have worked so hard all through the season, and to be rewarded with the title is great.”
Pekka Paivarinta and Jussi Veravainen could not make any ground on the Birchalls, they were to take second place and again like the Birchall Brothers were overjoyed with the final outcome, they were to take second place in the championship, due to Reeves/Wilkes DNF. Passenger Veravainen said after “ My first season doing this and a second place is unbelievable, okay I passenger in Moto Cross, and ice racing, but this is a total different ball game, I have enjoyed this year so much, thank you all”
Streuer and Rousseau took the third place in the race; they were happy and enjoyed the battle with Pekka and Jussi. At times it has been a hard season for the team but it came good in the end and they will finish the championship in fourth place.
Fourth place went to Lukas Wyssen and Thomas Hofer they enjoyed the race with Grabmuller/Lavorel. This fourth place lifted them to seventh overall in the championship. Another team who had tough times through the season, but enjoyed the battles.
Grabmuller and Lavorel took fifth place and had a good battle with Wyssen/Hofer, they would finish their season in ninth place overall. This also would be the teams last full season in world championship. But we will see, it is a long winter.
Sixth place went to the Christie Brothers, Sam and Adam. What a season the team have had. The “Rookie” team have had a great year, third and fourth places in the races, all new tracks for the team. The team are delighted with the final outcome, fifth place in the championship.
Peter Kimeswenger and Jens Lehertz took seventh place, they had a good battle throughout the race with Eero Parm and Mairon Meius until the 17th lap when Parm/Meius hit mechanical problems and had to pull out for a DNF.
The result for the race stood after extensive technical checks took place with all teams correct.
It will be a long winter, but teams will be itching to get started working on their machines for the 2019 “FIM World Sidecar Championship”.
Text and picture Mark Walters