FIM Sidecar World Championship.
Croatia Sprint race Report.
With the sun starting to fall from the sky the track temperature was still high. And the anticipation on the grid was tense.
As the lights went out it was Tim Reeves and Mark Wilkes on their “Adolf RS” Yamaha who led into the first corner with Ben and Tom Birchall right on their tail with their “LCR” Yamaha. The Birchall Brothers were having none of this though, they drew alongside Reeves and Wilkes going into turn two, side by side the two teams battled all the way round the corner. It was the Birchall Brothers who were to appear back into sight in the lead.
As the two front teams fought for the place, behind was a real battle for the positions. Bennie Streuer and Kevin Rousseau on their “LCR” Kawasaki slotted in behind Reeves and Wilkes with Pekka Paivarinta and Jussi Veravainen with their “LCR” Honda right on the tail of Streuer and Rousseau. There was a right ding dong going on with the next group of teams Lukas Wyssen and Thomas Hofer with their “LCR” Yamaha, were trying hard to fend off Lewis Blackstock and Patrick Rosney on their “LCR” Suzuki, Janez Remse and Manfred Wechselberger on their “Adolf RS” Yamaha, were pushing hard right behind Blackstock and Rosney. Sam and Adam Christie with their “LCR” Yamaha were in turn pushing hard behind Remse and Wechselberger.
As the top four teams came through for lap two the red flags came out. Wyssen/Hofer and Blackstock/Rosney had been fighting hard and both ended up in the kitty litter at the end of the lap. Both teams returned to the pit lane unhurt, and their machines seemed to be okay too. It was going to be a full 10 lap race restart.
For the second asking the lights went out again. This time it was Ben and Tom Birchall who got the perfect start from Tim Reeves and Mark Wilkes, and again it was Bennie Streuer and Kevin Rousseau behind Reeves and Wilkes, Pekka Paivarinta and Jussi Veravainen were right on the tail of Streuer and Rousseau. Wyssen/Hofer and Blackstock/Rosney were able to make the restart of the race too, and they were to resume the battle that they were in when the red flags came out. Scott Lawrie and Michael Fairhurst with their “LCR” Yamaha, slotted in behind the two teams in front. Sam and Adam Christie got a better start this time round and were right on the tail of Lawrie and Fairhurst followed closely by Janez Remse and Manfred Wechselberger. Another two teams decided to come and get involved with the battle Michael Grabmuller and Sebastien Lavorel with their “LCR” Yamaha, and Peter Kimeswenger with Jens Lehnertz on their “LCR” Kawasaki.
By lap four the leading four teams had settled down and left the battling to the six teams behind which was turning out to be a cracker. Unfortunately Blackstock and Rosney had retired, their fairing was damaged in the previous incident and driver Blackstock had problems steering the machine. In the early stages of lap four championship leaders Reeves and Wilkes were to retire, their engine had blown and their machine caught fire, a massive blow for the team. On lap six, Wyssen and Hofer were to retire with a slipping glitch.
Coming to the closing stages of the race, Lawrie/Fairhurst were just fending the Christie Brothers off, the two teams were pretty evenly matched, however the Christie Brothers got a great run into the last section of corners, they drew up alongside Lawrie and Fairhurst and managed to get by, but this move unnerved Lawrie/Fairhurst with them taking to the grass, they rejoined the track not losing a place but a good distance away now from the Christie Brothers.
There was a great battle going on behind between Remse/Wechselberger and Grabmuller/Lovorel. Grabmuller/Lavorel were trying so hard to get by Remse/Wechselberger, they were trying all racing lines possible to get by but just could not. Peter Kimeswenger and Jens Lehnertz on their “LCR” Kawasaki were just behind, and they were ready to pounce if the two teams in front made a mistake. This did happen but it was Grabmuller/Lavorel who made the mistake. They were to regroup and by the end of the race though, Kimeswenger/Lehnertz lost their place back to Grabmuller/Lavorel.
A delighted Ben and Tom Birchall took the race win from Paivarinta and Veravainen who had over hauled Streuer and Rousseau for the second place. Streuer/Rousseau took third. These three teams by the end of the race were way out on their own and turned out to be a lonely race for them.
Another great result for the Christie Brothers they took fourth place, Scott Lawrie and Michael Fairhurst took a good fifth place.
Jenez Remse and Manfred Wechselberger took sixth place to the delight of the spectators. And Remse punching the air as he crossed the line with delight.
Grabmuller and Lavorel salvaged seventh place, with Kimeswenger/Lehnertz eighth.
Jakob Rutz and Marcel Fries were one lap down but took ninth.
There will be an 18 lap Gold Race starting at 13:15 local time tomorrow.
Text and pictures by Mark Walters