FIM Sidecar World Championship and FIM Sidecar F2 World Trophy.
Grand Finale at Donington Park
The final race of the 2016 FIM Sidecar World Championship and the FIM Sidecar F2 World Trophy will be held at England’s Donington Park.
Donington Park first opened its gates in 1931, initially for motorcycle racing and then two years later for car action. The circuit went on to stage Grand Prix for both motorcycles and cars in the pre-war era.
Donington Park was subsequently re-built and re-opened in 1977, and has staged the British Motorcycle GP.
Among other accolades, Donington Park staged the first ever round of the World Superbike Championship, as well as hosting the F1 Grand Prix of Europe in 1993.
The circuit length is 4.0029km.
Last time out in Oschersleben Germany, it looked as if the Swiss pairing of Markus Schlosser and Thomas Hofer were going to come to Donington on a high with two race wins, greatly reducing the points difference between them and championship leaders Pekka Paivarinta and Kirsi Kainulainen. But this was not to be. Schlosser and Hofer dominated Oschersleben, but with one race win, and a gold race DNF, they slipped from second in the championship to fourth with no chance of taking the title.
The demise of Schlosser and Hofer makes for a slim chance that the Anglo French pairing of Tim Reeves and Gregory Cluze could take the championship title, so Reeves and Cluze will be going all out for a race win at Donington. As it is the home round for Reeves, he and French passenger Cluze will want to continue their winning ways after their surprise gold race win in Germany, when Schlosser and Hofer pulled out on the last lap with electrical problems. However Reeves and Cluze have not been without their mechanical problems throughout the season. They will certainly be hoping to end on a trouble free note.
With 23 points separating the “Flying Finns” Paivarinta and Kainulainen from Reeves and Cluze, and 25 points for the race win, both teams will be checking and double checking their machines. Throughout the season Paivarinta and Kainulainen have been the most consistent, having finished all races and stood on all podiums. And with passenger Kirsi Kainulainen making history earlier in the year, winning her first GP, and becoming the first woman to win a road race, could she take the world title too? If so the history books will be out again. We will have to wait and see.
Another team to benefit from Schlosser and Hofer pulling out of the last race is the French pairing of Sebastien Delannoy and Kevin Rousseau. They are another team who have been consistent throughout the season, finishing all races. They sit third in the championship with 123 points, 11 points adrift of Reeves and Cluze in second, but only 3 points ahead of Schlosser and Hofer in fourth.
2015 Champions Bennie Streuer and Geert Koerts are sitting fifth in the championship on 80 points. However the Dutch pairing had an accident competing in the domestic German Championship, resulting in passenger Koerts breaking some bones in his hand. Fellow Dutch passenger Gerard Daalhuizen stood in for Koerts at the last round in Germany, and will probably do the same here at Donington.
Mike Roscher and Anna Burkard, sitting sixth in the championship and trailing Streuer and Koerts/Daalhuizen by 9 points, will be hoping Donington Park will be good for them. The team have been consistent throughout the season. Had it not been for a non-start in Le-Mans, due to very bad weather conditions, when both Roscher and Burkard decided not to race, they could possibly have been coming to Donington in the top five of the championship.
John Holden with regular passenger Stuart Ramsay come to their home GP in seventh place with 62 points. They have had an up and down season, and two DNF’s half way through certainly dented their championship position. But they did stand on the podium in Hungary. In Germany, Holden had Mark Wilkes in the chair, deputising for Ramsay, who was back in the UK awaiting the birth of his child.
Two teams tie with 44 points. Sweden’s Billy Gallros and Dutch passenger Gerard Daalhuizen were looking good at the beginning of the season and were up in the top five of the championship. Unfortunately, an accident at Zolder sidelined the team from the championship, with driver Gallros requiring hospital treatment. Olivier Dichamp and Vincent Peugeot, also with 44 points, missed two rounds, so that has kept them down on points. A good race in Donington will certainly take them up past Gallros and Daalhuizen in the championship points tally.
Brian Gray and Rookie passenger Adam Christie have 43 points; they have had a reasonable season considering they had a new machine at the beginning of the season. Unfortunately they went back to their older machine as they just could not get the new machine to run properly. But with the older machine they have had trouble free races. They will be going all out for a good race in Donington, knowing that they could overtake the two teams just in front of them in the championship, as there a difference of only one point.
This race in Donington will be the last time that 1000cc powered engines will race for the FIM Sidecar World Championship. New rules implemented by the FIM will mean that from 2017, all engines will be of 600cc. But there has been 600cc machines racing for the FIM Sidecar F2 World Trophy this season, mixing it with the larger 1000cc sidecars.
Ben and Tom Birchall have been untouchable in the F2 Trophy class. They came into the season wanting to show what the smaller 600cc machine could do up against the big bikes. They certainly have done that. They have had a clean sweep of pole positions, and won all races in the class. They have also been consistently in the top five in the overall race results. They have had some monumental battles with the 1000cc machines throughout the season. With them winning two races in Germany last time out, they are the FIM Sidecar F2 World Trophy Champions with no other team being able to catch them on points. They will certainly want to put on a good show for their fans and sponsors in Donington. They live just up the road in Mansfield, so this really is their home track.
Second in the F2 Trophy class with 116 points is the Austrian pairing of Michael Grabmuller and Sophia Kirchhofer. They had machine problems at a couple of races this season, and it looked like they were going to have to be happy with a third place in the championship. But the pair overtook fellow countrymen Gunther Bachmaier and Manfred Wechselberger in the points table when they had a DNF in the first race at the last round in Germany. With Bachmaier and Wechselberger on 110 points, though, Grabmuller and Kirchhofer will hope to be spared any machine problems, so they can keep their second place in the championship.
Sitting in fourth place in the F2 Trophy class is the duo of Eckart Rosinger and Steffen Werner with 98 points. They have stood on the F2 Trophy podium three times this year, and the German pairing have been overjoyed with these results.
Tony Baker and Fiona Baker-Milligan are sitting with 93 points. They have been consistent throughout the season, and like the Birchall Brothers, they are the only other team in the class to finish all races.
With 23 points separating second place from fifth place in the class, it is all to race for in the championship. There will be a lot of machine preparation before this final round, with the teams wanting to jump up the points table.
This race at Donington Park will be running for the last time together with the FIM Sidecar Championship and the FIM Sidecar F2 World Trophy. There will be an 15 laps race on Saturday the 17th, starting at 18:30local time.