FIM Sidecar World Championship.
Round Seven, Oschersleben Preview.
The final round of the 2018 “FIM Sidecar World Championship” will take place at the 3.667km clockwise circuit of Oschersleben. Opened in July, 1997, the circuit’s flat contour makes it smooth and fast, and is situated just south of Magdebourg in Germany.
One 21 lap race will decide the outcome of the Championship. And who would have predicted how the championship has turned out.
Three teams have been fighting throughout the season for the top spot. Tim Reeves and Mark Wilkes, Ben and Tom Birchall, and Pekka Paivarinta with Jussi Veravainen.
Reeves and Wilkes with Paivarinta and Veravainen took control at the beginning of the season, with the Birchall Brothers having machine problems leaving them with lowly placings, and even a DNF, very uncharacteristic for the team. Reeves and Wilkes had a good lead over Paivarinta and Veravainen, then another sting in the tail, Reeves/Wilkes made a very rare mistake in Hungary, they spun off track, resulting with them finishing a very lowly 10th. They left Hungary still leading the championship but Paivarinta/Veravainen had closed the gap, with the Birchall’s in third. The next twist in the tail was to involve three teams. Paivarinta/Veravainen, Lukas Wyssen and Thomas Hofer, and Jakob Rutz with Marcel Fries. After the round at the “Sachsenring” Germany, it was deemed that these three teams had used non regulation fuel, resulting with the teams losing all the points from that meeting.*
This left Paivarinta/Veravainen dropping down to third in the championship behind the Birchall’s who now because of Paivarinta/Veravainen’s points loss had gained a place. The next twist in the story is, going into the last round in Croatia, Reeves and Wilkes had a 51 point lead over the Birchall Brothers for the championship. Who would have thought it, Reeves and Wilkes had two DNF’s, the Birchall Brothers won both races, thus taking them to only one point behind Reeves and Wilkes for the championship. However Paivarinta and Veravainen had two good results in Croatia giving them good points in the championship. With how the season has turned out, anything could happen in Oschersleben, any problems for the two leading teams in Oschersleben, Paivarinta and Veravainen will certainly jump at the chance for a top two placing in the race. They trail the two leading teams by 16 points, let the battle commence.
29 points down on Paivarinta and Veravainen and in a good fourth place in the championship is Bennie Streuer and Kevin Rousseau. Streuer and Rousseau were pretty despondent about how the middle part of the season had been for them but after Croatia they will be on a high, they stood on the podium twice and they certainly will be wanting to mix it with the top teams, and if they get the chance they will do just that. Streuer likes Oschersleben, he won his world title here in 2015.
What a “rookie” season it has been for the fifth place team of Sam and Adam Christie. They have 102 points, and again a pretty safe fifth place, just like the fourth place for Streuer and Rousseau. The Christie Brothers picked up two third places in “Sachsenring” after the ruling to strip points from three teams for fuel infringements. Unfortunately the Brothers did not get the chance to stand on the podium, but having the trophies is a nice consolation for missing out on that. The team have worked away steadily throughout the season resulting with good results. Oschersleben is another new track for the Brothers, but the way they have approached the other tracks through the season, don’t be surprised, they could ruffle a few feathers among the top teams.
Sixth in the championship with 86 points is Janez Remse who had Irish passenger Eamon Mulholland up till the last round at Croatia. There was a change for the team with Manfred Wechselberger replacing Mulholland as passenger. However the team have had a good season, they are the only team to have scored points for the championship in each round. And with the team always working on development to their machine they will be hoping for a strong finish to the season.
Seventh with 65 points are Peter Kimeswenger and Jens Lehnertz. The Austrian pairing have had some major engine problems this season, but despite these problems the team have stuck with it and with a lot of hard work have always been positive throughout. A good result here in Oschersleben will just be the ticket for the team.
Lukas Wyssen and Thomas Hofer have 64 points and sit in eighth place. Wyssen and Hofer were another team who lost their points after “Sachsenring” for fuel infringements. The team regrouped after this mistake, and in Croatia had a good weekend speed wise. However an off track excursion and clutch problems really put paid to their weekend. They have the speed to run at the front with the top teams but as the long races progress the team just seem to drop off the pace. Oschersleben may be kind to the team, but it will be interesting to see if the one long race will affect the team’s progress towards the end of the race.
Ninth with 60 points are Michael Grabmuller and Sebastien Lavorel. Rumor has it that this could be the last full season that Grabmuller will race in the World Championship, if so the team will want to go out on a high. Grabmuller and Lavorel have had a hard season, they have had a lot of mechanical problems throughout, but have always rallied together and showed that they can mix it with the best.
Tenth place goes to Lewis Blackstock and Patrick Rosney, they have 55 points, like so many other teams, they have had lots of problems, not only mechanical but handling too. Last year they were the “Rookie” team and had a great season. But this year has been a bit of a nightmare for them, although they did miss a couple of races due to other commitments at the beginning of the season. A good race here in Oschersleben will be what the team want.
One race and we will have a champion, but who will it be? We will see on Saturday the 6th of October.
Text and pictures Mark Walters for FIM