Brilliant sunshine greeted the World Sidecar teams in Oschersleben for two free practice sessions. The teams knew there would be lots of track time, and the practice sessions would be forty minutes, plenty of time to get their machines set up.
One team had a disaster of a day from the word go. “Team SLR” Scott Lawrie and Ben Hughes were sidelined for the whole day, and the team was still working into the night to rectify an electrical problem. The team is hopeful that the problem will be sorted for qualifying practice, but that was surely not the way they had wanted the day to go.
“Team Early Grey” Eckart Rosinger and Steffen Werner managed to get some time out on track in the first practice session but they started to have mechanical problems which were to sideline them for the rest of the day.
2015 champion Bennie Streuer had an eventful day too. His passenger Kevin Rousseau had an accident racing in France two weeks ago resulting in him breaking his arm in three places. Rousseau was hopeful that he would be fit to race after having surgery to his arm, but after a visit to the medical centre and a check by the doctor it was deemed that he would not be fit to race. However, Rousseau’s partner Emmanuelle Clement, who is a passenger, was willing to step in and help out for free practice. All was sorted for Streuer, and the pair were to have a good two sessions setting their fastest time of 1:37.654 which would put them fourth fastest.
The top team in free practice was Ben and Tom Birchall. They were to have a trouble-free practice and improve their lap times throughout the day. They finished the day with a time of 1:33.716, again letting the other sidecar teams know what their intention for the weekend will be.
Pekka Paivarinta and Kirsi Kainulainen set the second fastest time. 1:34.554 was a good time for them. They did not have any problems and Paivarinta said afterwards: “We are really happy with the time, we are closer to Ben and Tom with our lap time than we were in Le Mans. The bike is good. We made some small adjustments with the handling setup which has made this possible. We will see if we can get a better time in qualifying”.
The third fastest time went to John Holden and Mark Wilkes. They were building up to setting a blistering pace in the first session when it went all wrong for them. They exited a corner when their machine came to a halt and they had to pull off the track. They suffered an engine problem, which left them working frantically through the afternoon to change it before the second session started. They managed to do this, and all went well for the team. After a few laps bedding in and checking that all was good they set a time of 1:36.439. They were happy and hope that they can set a faster time in qualifying.
With Streuer in fourth spot, the fifth fastest time went to Michael Grabmuller and Sophia Kirchhofer. They sat out the first free practice, but took to the track in the second. They had a trouble free session and set a time of 1:38.632. They worked away steadily, checking all was good with their machine, and will be going for a faster time in qualifying.
It was a good free practice for Peter Kimeswenger and Jens Lehnertz. They had a bad meeting at Le Mans when they had machine setup and mechanical problems. They seem to have all this sorted and they were to set a time of 1:39.266 for sixth fastest.
Oschersleben is another new track for Lewis Blackstock and Patrick Rosney. They had no problems with their machine and worked away steadily, learning the circuit. They set a time of 1:40.959 for seventh, and will be hoping to go faster in qualifying and be the top short-chassis team.
The eighth fastest time went to Gunther Bachmaier and Helen Deeley. Bachmaier crashed heavily in Le Mans resulting in his regular passenger Manfred Wechselberger having hand and leg injuries. Helen Deeley has stepped in to help out, and with the team getting to know how each other work, they improved their lap times throughout the day, finally setting their fastest time of 1:41.782.
One team who had a lot to sort out with their machine was duo Janez Remse and Robbie Shorter. Their machine is new and had not turned a wheel before free practice. Even their engine had to be bedded in. Also, for passenger Shorter from New Zealand, this was his first time passengering for Remse. So it is really an all-new team and bike. They took things steadily at first making sure all was good, then spent a fair bit of time making small adjustments to their machine. But all seems to be running well, and the pair are happy with how things have gone in free practice. They set a time of 1:45.207.
There will be two qualifying sessions today, (Friday) to settle the final grid placings for the two races, one on Saturday and one on Sunday.