FIM Sidecar World Championship.
“Gamma Racing Day”
With the sun shining brightly down on 95,000 enthusiastic spectators at the “Gamma Racing Day” in Assen, Holland. The “Gold Race” for round four of the “FIM Sidecar World Championship” was about to get under way.
One team not on the grid for the start of the race was Janez Remse and Robbie Shorter with their “Remse Racing” ARS, Yamaha. When fitting the front wheel to their machine all was not right when tightening the wheel nut, the team found that the wheel hub had a problem.
As the lights went out it was the Birchall Brothers Ben and Tom on their “Birchall Racing” LCR, Yamaha who got the jump on the rest of the field. But they were to run wide at the first corner letting Pekka Paivarinta and Kirsi Kainulainen on their “44-Racing” LCR, Honda through to take the lead. John Holden and Mark Wilkes on their “Barnes/Silicone” LCR, Kawasaki slotted into third. It was a great start for Alan Founds and Jeroen Schmitz on their “Brian Grays Powerbiking” LCR, Yamaha, they were up to fourth place just in front of Bennie Streuer and Kevin Rousseau in fifth on their “Team Streuer” LCR, Honda. Michael Grabmuller and Sebastien Lavorel slotted into sixth place with their “Polizeisportverein Wels” LCR, Yamaha, with Lewis Blackstock and Patrick Rosney right on their tail with their “Holden Racing” LCR, Suzuki.
By the end of lap one the Birchall Brothers had managed to regroup and repass Paivarinta and Kainulainen for the lead. Also Streuer and Rousseau had passed Founds and Schmitz and gave chase to Holden and Wilkes in third.
Paivarinta and Kainulainen were right on Birchall’s tail for the first half of the race; they were managing to make some ground with their braking, but just could not get close enough for a passing maneuver. The same could be said for the battle for third and fourth place. Holden and Wilkes were getting pressure from Streuer and Rousseau, but again, fourth place Streuer and Rousseau could make good time in the corners and braking, but Holden and Wilkes were just a bit faster out of corners and on the straights.
Grabmuller and Lavorel had made their way up to fifth place and they were to keep this place for the rest of the race, it was to be a lonely race for the pair, but not without a heart stopping moment for passenger Lavorel, he was nearly to part company with the machine coming into the world famous “Strubben” corner. He managed to hang on though and get his thoughts back on track; all was okay after this incident.
Founds and Schmitz found themselves locked in a battle with Blackstock and Rosney, but it was Blackstock and Rosney who seemed to get the better in this battle, until with five laps to go in the race, Blackstock and Rosney were visibly getting slower, it looked if they could have machine problems, they were to continue though. Founds and Schmitz passed and this put them in a safe sixth place in the race.
With Blackstock and Rosney slowing, Scott Lawrie and Calum Lawson on their “Team SLR” LCR, Suzuki who were having a lonely race in eighth place were catching fast. They did eventually catch and pass Blackstock/Rosney for the seventh place.
Blackstock/Rosney did finish the race in eighth place. The team think that there could have been a fueling problem with their machine.
Another good battle throughout the race was between Brian Gray and Jason Pitt on their “Brian Grays Powerbiking” LCR, Yamaha, and Peter Kimeswenger and Jens Lehnertz on their “Austria Sidecar Racing-MRSC-Gunskirchen” LCR, Kawasaki. The two teams were to pass and repass each another through the race. With two laps to go in the race Kimeswenger and Lehnertz passed Gray and Pitt. But this pass was too early, Gray and Pitt managed to stick right with Kimeswenger/Lehnertz, on the last lap, Gray and Pitt drew up alongside Kimeswenger/Lehnertz going into the first corner and took the ninth place, they were to keep this position till the chequered flag, with Kimeswenger and Lehnertz tenth.
Ben and Tom Birchall once again took a great race win. The team were delighted with the result, apart from a small mistake on lap one, the team were faultless throughout the race and their machine was perfect.
Paivarinta and Kainulainen took second. The team fought hard throughout the race, Paivarinta and Kainulainen were credited with the fastest lap time in the race, a time of 1:44.606. But they desperately want that illusive first race win for the year.
Holden and Wilkes were delighted with the final podium spot. Driver Holden knew how close Streuer and Rousseau were at times during the race, he could hear their machine. Holden was to rely heavily on good pit boarding by his pit crew.
Streuer and Rousseau took fourth place. A good result, but the team were a little disappointed, they wanted so much to stand on the podium, being it their home GP.
Next time out for the World Sidecar teams will be in Croatia in September. There will be two races there, and the championship will be decided too.
Text and pictures by Mark Walters