As the lights went out for the first race of the 2019 FIM Sidecar World Championship at a sunny Bugatti circuit in Le Mans, it was Ben and Tom Birchall who got the jump up the long drag to the first chicane.
They werefollowed by Tim Reeves and Mark Wilkes, Bennie Streuer and Ilse De Haas were in behind Reeves/Wilkes, Markus Schlosser and Marcel Fries were alongside Streuer/De Haas, next up it was Pekka Paivarinta and Jussi Veravainen with Paul Leglise and Emmanuelle Clement tucked in on the inside, Lukas Wyssen and Thomas Hofer were going for a gap between Paivarinta/Veravainen and Streuer/ De Haas, but they were to have the door shut in front of them, Sam and Adam Christie were on the inside of Wyssen/Hofer, Janez Remse and Manfred Wechselberger were next up.
Kees Endeveld and Jeroen Remme alongside them, Rupert Archer and Steve Thomas were just in front of Jakob Rutz and Bjorn Bosch. Peter Kimeswenger and Jens Lehnertz pulled into pit lane after the warm up lap, and tried to make the start of the race from the pit lane exit, but their weekend of troubles were to continue, they pulled off at the end of the pit lane and back to the paddock.
The same was said for Joseph Sattler and Uwe Neubert. So not a good first race for these two teams.
Going down the fast right hand corner after the Dunlop bridge on the first lap there was contact between the Birchall Brothers and Reeves/Wilkes, this let the door open for Paivarinta/Veravainen to take the lead, Streuer and De Haas moved up to second with the Birchall brothers managing to stay in third, Reeves and Wilkes were in fourth. Wyssen and Hofer managed to get by Leglise/Clement, and gave chase to their fellow countrymen Schlosser/Fries.
The Birchall brothers followed by Reeves and Wilkes managed to get by Streuer De Haas and both teams gave chase to Paivarinta and Veravainen.
The Birchall’s passed for the lead, but the “Flying Finns” were having none of this, they repassed for the lead. This battle was to go on for the whole race, the two teams were to pass and re pass each and other. The crowed loved it, roaring with every pass and repass for the lead.
Lap five was to be bad for Streuer/De Haas, they pulled out for a DNF with mechanical problems. As too on lap six for Leglise and Clement, again mechanical problems.
The battle at the front raged on between the Birchall brothers and Paivarinta/Veravainen. Reeves was in a good third place, but it looked if the team were slowing a little, Schlosser/Fries were up to fourth place now and they could see Reeves/Wilkes in front of them, they were on a charge now they could see a third place possibly.
There was a great battle for fifth and sixth place throughout the whole race too, between the Christie brothers and Wyssen/Hofer. This was a very close fought battle with both teams enjoying every minute of it.
Lap fourteen in the race saw Jakob Rutz and Bjorn Bosch enter pit lane, they were to change a wheel and rejoin the race, albeit two laps down on the other teams.
By the final stages of the 18 lap race, the battle at the front raged on between the Birchall brothers and Paivarinta/Veravainen. Schlosser/Fries were catching Reeves/Wilkes, Reeves and Wilkes had slowed, but were managing to stay in front of Schlosser/Fries.
On the last lap of the race, Paivarinta and Veravainen were out in front with the Birchall brothers right on their tail. Just after the “Dunlop” bridge The Birchall brothers went in a bit too hot and made contact with the rear of Paivarinta/Veravainen’s machine. Reeves and Wilkes with Schlosser/Fries right with them now could not believe it. They were to pass the Birchall brothers. Passenger Tom Birchall had his hand up, they had a problem. There was no way they could chase Reeves/Wilkes, Schlosser/Fries.
A delighted Paivarinta and Veravainen took the race win with Reeves and Wilkes nearly 11 seconds down, second place. They had brake problems; this was the reason for the team slowing during the race. Just over a second down on Reeves and Wilkes was Schlosser and Fries they took third place. Not all was lost for the Birchall brothers, they managed to nurse their machine to the line with a slipping clutch and take fourth place.
Wyssen and Hofer were to take a great fought fifth place over the Christie brothers sixth. Both teams congratulated each other on a good clean race after.
Janez Remse and Manfred Wechselberger had a lonely race in seventh place, and this is where they stayed till the end. But the team are happy with the result and they did not have any problems with their machine throughout the race.
Kees Endeveld and Jeroen Remme tried all they could to get up with Remse/Wechselberger for a battle, but Remse/Wechselberger were just too far in front and were faster too. But eighth place for the team is good, they are happy with this.
Ninth place went to Rupert Archer and Steve Thomas. Their machine was all good throughout the race and the team are heading home happy with how the weekend has gone.
Rutz/Bosch took tenth, albeit two laps down after their visit to pit lane.