FIM Sidecars: Ellis and Schlosser rule and impress in glorious Assen

FIM Sidecars: Ellis and Schlosser rule and impress in glorious Assen

FIM Sidecars: Ellis and Schlosser rule and impress in glorious Assen

Race action from Assen

The Netherlands has been a hot bed of sidecar activity for decades, producing four World Championship victories in the hands of triple winner Egbert Streuer and more recently his son Benny.

The Assen circuit once again played host to the sidecar fraternity on the World Superbike stage, and a fantastic weekend resulted. Both qualifying sessions took place late in the day on Friday in near perfect weather conditions, albeit with a strong breeze gusting around.

Qualifying

In the first session, Champions Schlosser/Fries (Gustoil Yamaha) made the early running with Todd Ellis/Emmanuelle Clement (Santander Salt Yamaha) in close company. A time of 1.43.892 seemed to be the standard, until Schlosser banged in a 1.43.700. Streuer (Bonovo Action Yamaha) was also strong. Kershaw/Charlwood Quattro Yamaha) sat sixth fastest, but it was clear there was more to come from all the crews. Tim Reeves/Kevin Rousseau set a very good 1.44.037 on their tenth tour. It was Todd Ellis however who grabbed the best time in the closing stages with stunning 1.43.255.

Race action from Assen

Session two, and the bar was raised slightly with a real sense of urgency from the key players. Ellis’s time was going to be hard to beat, but the gloves were off. Schlosser improved, Benny Streuer moved third and Tim Reeves placed fourth, but looked menacing. Suddenly Reeves was upping his game and Todd Ellis looked threatened. Could either crew find a fraction more with minutes left to go?

One lap remaining, and it was now or never for eight times champion Reeves. Into the closing moments and it was indeed Ellis on pole, from Reeves, then Schlosser from Streuer with Kershaw fifth and Harry Payne/Mark Wilkes sixth. Wyssen sat seventh and Ted Peugeot eighth. The Reeves challenge had been strong but missed the mark by a fraction.

Race One

Sun and wind prevailed in large doses on Saturday, and a full grandstand appreciated the efforts of the FIM Sidecars. They were here to watch world-class racing and were not disappointed.

From the off, there were six teams in line astern with pole sitters Ellis/Clement leading the freight-train. Behind them came the Bonovo Action multiple champion Reeves chased by an impressive Benny Streuer/Kevin Kolsch, with the reigning champions Schlosser/Fries hanging onto fourth ahead of Steve Kershaw/Ryan Charlwood.

Also in close company came Harry Payne/Mark Wilkes (DAO 1886 Yamaha) and a determined Ted/Vincent Peugeot (FHC Competition Yamaha).

This convoy was mightily impressive, watched by a hugely supportive crowd in the grandstand.

Lap three and Reeves was ahead, only for Ellis to reclaim the place for the next three laps. Then it was Reeves again, just as Schlosser began to close on Streuer. Lap seven saw Reeves back in front with Streuer making a move resulting in some contact in the busy action at the front. This left the Dutchman a fuming and damaged apparent victim. He maintained he had the speed to take the lead, and in his fifteen years, had never run into anyone. His fairing mounting was broken causing it to shake about and rub on the rear tyre. From then on it was damage limitation for the mild-mannered former champion.

Kershaw/Charlwood picked him off, relegating him to fifth, and that is where he stayed. Schlosser fought past Ellis to set after Reeves. Ellis went with him, and Reeves slipped back to third. There was no looking back for the Swiss pair as they stormed to victory from Ellis, moving into a one-point series lead. A brave and still battered Harry Payne claimed sixth place from another stylish Swiss Lukas Wyssen. He and passenger Thomas Hofer looked good on track and when interviewed, said there was more to come.

This was a great example of the close level of competition now prevalent in this rejuvenated FIM World Championship.

Schlosser/Fries win the race

Result
1/ Markus Schlosser/Marcel Fries (Gustoil Yamaha)
2/ Todd Ellis/Emmanuelle Clement (Santander Salt Yamaha
3/ Tim Reeves/Kevin Rousseau (Bonovo Action Yamaha)
4/ Steve Kershaw/Ryan Charlwood (Quattro Yamaha)
5/ Benny Streuer/Kevin Kolsch (Bonovo Action Yamaha)
6/ Harry Payne/Mark Wilkes (DAO 1886 Yamaha)
7/ Lukas Wyssen/Thomas Hofer (Gustoil Yamaha)
8/ Ted Peugeot/Vincent Peugeot (FHC Competition Yamaha)
9/ Cedric Pierard/Arnaud Pierard (Pierard Yamaha)
10/ Kevin Cable/Charlie Richardson (LW Racing Yamaha)

Race Two

More strong wind and sunshine set the scene for this one, with Reeves/Rousseau making another flyer off the line. Eager to get the job done, Ellis/Clement grabbed the lead on lap one. Reeves was back in front next time around and it was game on. Streuer was into third, slipping by Kershaw/Charlwood, with Schlosser sitting fifth.

Once again, the sight of this convoy of outfits streaming down the Assen main straight was something to behold. The grandstand was still packed from the WSBK races, and the Dutch love their sidecars.

Lap five, and Kershaw had relegated Streuer and were in a podium slot, as Schlosser also began to pressurise the Dutchman. Ellis moved to the front after shadowing Reeves for four laps.

Race action from Assen

Harry Payne/Mark Wilkes came next with the bit between their teeth, involved with Peugeot and Wyssen. They were to break free, make good ground, and claim an amazing finish on a bike which had to be completely rebuilt en-route from Le Mans.

At the front, Ellis displayed a mature and calculated attitude, pulling away from Tim Reeves, never to look back. Schlosser was on the move, with Kershaw slipping backwards having taken the best out of his tyres. Payne assumed his fourth place, as Schlosser closed in on Reeves. Ellis was six seconds clear at the flag, restoring his series lead to four points, with Tim Reeves still searching for an elusive victory. Schlosser was once again his impeccable self, fully aware he has a battle on his hands to retain his title. Benny Streuer is back to full fitness and form, so expect to see him hard at it as the season progresses. He and Kevin Kolsch look a class act together. Given the shortage of entries early in the season, this 2022 championship has all the hallmarks of being an epic one.

Ellis/Clement

Result
1/ Ellis/Clement
2/ Schlosser/Fries
3/ Reeves/Rousseau
4/ Payne/Wilkes
5/ Streuer/Kolsch
6/ Kershaw/Charlwood
7/ Wyssen/Hofer
8/ Peugeot/Peugeot
9/ Leglise/Farnier
10/ Remse/Weschelberger

Championship standings
Ellis/Clement 90
Schlosser/Fries 86
Reeves/Rousseau 68
Kershaw/Charlwood 49
Wyssen/Hofer 38
Payne/Wilkes 31
Peugeot/Peugeot 27
Leglise/Farnier 27
Streuer/Kolsch 22
Pierard/Pierard 20
Cable/Richardson 18
Remse/Weschelberger 16

Full standings will be available on the FIM-Moto Sport website as they become available.

Round Three takes place June 4-5th on the Spa Francorchamps circuit, sharing the stage once more with the FIM World Endurance Championship.

Photo credit: Mark ‘Wally’ Walters

FIM Sidecars: Cathedral of Speed gets ready for round two April 23-24

FIM Sidecars: Cathedral of Speed gets ready for round two April 23-24

FIM Sidecars: Cathedral of Speed gets ready for round two April 23-24

Race one action from Assen

The first of two appearances with the FIM Superbike World Championship takes place at the famous Assen circuit in The Netherlands over the weekend of April 23-24. Hot on the heels of the Le Mans opener, the battle for honours is already taking shape as we might have expected. This was always going to be a stellar season.

Defending Champions Markus Schlosser and Marcel Fries (Gustoil Yamaha) started the defence of their title with a hard-fought podium and a brilliant race two victory in France. It was not good enough to come away top scorers however, as Todd Ellis/Emmanuelle Clement (Santander Salt Yamaha) edged into the series lead with one victory and a second place.

Eight times Champion Tim Reeves with Kevin Rousseau alongside, was in the running with them but came out third best on the day. He is something of an Assen specialist so will be looking to make amends next weekend. By his own admission, there is doubt as to whether he will contest the remainder of the World Championship season, so a good result in Assen could well influence that decision.

Steve Kershaw and Ryan Charlwood had the Quattro Yamaha on song and will certainly be aiming for podium spots at the very least. This duo has something of a reputation for biding their time watching and waiting. The crowd in Assen will be a big one, as just as with France, bike and sidecar fans have been starved of live race action during the pandemic and are clearly making up for lost time.

Entries have been building steadily, but the core group of serious contenders from the UK, France, Germany, and Switzerland will be in action, along with a strong contingent of Dutch entries headed by former Champion Benny Streuer. He and Kevin Kolsch have work to do following a disastrous opener in Le Mans.

With two races on the programme late in the day Saturday and Sunday, fifty more points are there for the taking on one of the most charismatic circuits in the world.

A dedicated TV crew will record the action for later transmission, with broadcast schedules and destinations currently under negotiation.

Photo credit: Mark ‘Wally’ Walters

FIM Sidecars: Ellis/Clement leave Le Mans as championship leaders

FIM Sidecars: Ellis/Clement leave Le Mans as championship leaders

FIM Sidecars: Ellis/Clement leave Le Mans as championship leaders

Race action from Le Mans

The long wait for race action did not disappoint in France. The weather was perfect for the two races, and all the top teams completed qualifying successfully with one exception.

Qualifying

The first session times were very close, with just eight tenths of one second splitting the top five. Previous new lap record holders Ted and Vincent Peugeot had their eyes opened with the pace, as they ended up sixth fastest behind Tim Reeves/Kevin Rousseau. A brilliant effort by Harry Payne/Mark Wilkes found them top of the pile just over one tenth quicker than Todd Ellis and Emmanuelle Clement. Reigning Champions Schlosser/Fries came next ahead of Steve Kershaw/Ryan Charlwood.

Session two was on a much hotter track, and that proved interesting. Schlosser/Fries turned the tables on Harry Payne and Mark Wilkes to head the times, but generally speeds were a little slower than earlier. Sadly, the Manxmen were to crash with four laps remaining. Harry Payne received treatment at the track, but escaped with bruises, cuts and lacerations to his face. Benny Streuer/Kevin Kolsch found a bit more speed to go third.

Streuer/Kölsch

Race One

Glorious weather and temperatures in the low twenties prevailed, but that was not in the mind of the teams as the lights went out. The Bugatti circuit is a favourite with many, and the atmosphere was tense. Harry Payne/Mark Wilkes were non-starters, but immediately got on with the job of sorting their wrecked machine for race two.

Reigning champions Markus Schlosser started from pitlane with a problem and was obliged to fight his way through the field. This was an immense task which he and his passenger Marcel Fries rose to with style.

Tim Reeves/Kevin Rousseau made another of their electrifying starts, chased by Toss Ellis/Emmanuelle Clement. Then came a very rapid Streuer/Kolsch from Ted Peugeot and Steve Kershaw.

Reeves/Rousseau

This leading group were tied together for lap after lap as Schlosser/Fries battled through. They were making up one place each lap, but the job got harder as they neared the front. Reeves and Ellis were neck and neck on lap fourteen, when Ellis made his move on Reeves to go ahead. Once in front, the Santander Salt pair rode sensibly, stretching the gap on each of the closing laps. It was a perfectly measured performance with maximum points
to kick-start the season. Streuer was riding well with a podium very much on the cards. He then had a bit of a wobble, with contact affecting Steve Kershaw, throwing him out of his rhythm. This dropped the Scot into the clutches of Schlosser who claimed the final podium place after a sensational race from bog last. Streuer’s race was then effectively over, after such a strong start.

The battle further down was equally enthralling with Kevin Cable/Chaz Richardson claiming a fine eighth behind Vinet, Leglise, and Wyssen. Harry Payne and Mark Wilkes, despite their enormous qualifying crash, were still working hard to make the bike fit for race two while all this drama was unfolding on track. This was a fine race for Ellis/Clement to get their season underway and the crowd appreciated the team’s efforts with whistles and applause on the slow-down lap.

Reeves showed he has lost none of his determination but must surely know this will be another tough year in a sport which he has ruled supreme for so long.

Ellis/Clement race winners on the podium

Result

1/ Todd Ellis/Emmanuelle Clement (Santander Salt Yamaha)
2/ Tim Reeves/Kevin Rousseau (Bonovo Action Adolf RS Yamaha)
3/ Markus Schlosser/Marcel Fries (Gustoil Team Yamaha)
4/ Steve Kershaw/Ryan Charlwood (Kershaw Racing Yamaha)
5/ Lukas Wyssen/Thomas Hofer (Gustoil Team Yamaha)
6/ Paul Leglise/Melanie Farnier (521 Competition Yamaha)
7/ Claude Vinet/Cyril Vinet (Team Vinet LCR Yamaha)
8/ Kevin Cable/Charlie Richardson (LW Racing Yamaha)
9/ Phillipe Le Bail/Serge Leveau (Team Auto LCR Yamaha)
10/ Stephane Gadet/Valentin Pirat (LCR Kawasaki)

Race Two

A huge crowd was in place for the second encounter, as the 24 hr Endurance race was due on track immediately after the sidecars. Nonetheless, the French love their sidecar racing and were ecstatic throughout the thoroughly entertaining eighteen laps.

From the lights it was a thrilling run to the first chicane, as Todd Ellis Emmanuelle Clement narrowly headed Tim Reeves/Kevin Rousseau. Markus Schlosser/Marcel Fries. Kershaw/Charlwood sat fourth very much in touch, with Ted/Vincent Peugeot fifth ahead of the first all-French crew Paul Leglise/Melanie Farnier.

Peugeot / Peugeot

Reeves made a pass to go ahead briefly, but Ellis regained control with Schlosser following through. Still Kershaw/Charlwood hung in strongly, and Reeves/Rousseau spent the remainder of the race fending off attacks from the Quattro teamsters.

Lap after lap the freight-train at the front streamed through the turns and flew along the straights in a tightly-knit convoy, with Ellis/Clement eventually succumbing to the Swiss Gustoil crew of Schlosser/Fries.

Third in the first race from the back of the grid says everything about the speed of this pair, and they lived up to that reputation. Their style and smoothness was impressive to watch. Ellis/Clement rode another mature race knowing that runner-up spot would give them the title lead, with Reeves/Rousseau secure in third provided they stayed there.

Kershaw had his nose alongside a couple of times, but the eight-times champion did enough to hold the place.

Kershaw Racing

Harry Payne/Mark Wilkes started from the back of the grid on a twenty-year-old RCN chassis, and fought through for an amazing eighth place, battered and bruised. Benny Streuer/Kevin Kolsch were fast, but their weekend was to be a nightmare and one to forget, with incidents in both races rewarding them with a paltry three points.

Wyssen/Hofer had a good weekend to back up their Gustoil champion team- mates to come away fifth in the standings for Switzerland.

The Peugeot family team had another great ride, with the nineteen-year-old Ted showing maturity beyond his years. Sad to say they will not contest all the rounds due to financial reasons. This is another young talent France, and the sport, dearly needs in the series. France did themselves proud with Paul Leglise and Melanie Farnier taking two strong sixth place finishes to register twenty points.

Talking of young talent, last year’s runners-up Ellis/Clement left Le Mans as championship leaders with seven rounds ahead of them.

Schlosser/Fries race winners on the podium

Result

1/ Schlosser/Fries
2/ Ellis/Clement
3/ Reeves/Rousseau
4/ Kershaw/Charlwood
5/ Peugeot/Peugeot
6/ Leglise/Farnier
7/ Wyssen/Hofer
8/ Payne/Wilkes
9/ Remse/Wechelberger
10/ Pierard/Pierard

Standings

Ellis 45
Schlosser 41
Reeves 36
Kershaw 26
Wyssen 20
Leglise 20
Vinet 13
Peugeot 12
Le Bail 11
Remse 10
Pierard 10
Gadet 8
Gallerne 8
Cable 8
Payne 8
Streuer 3

Round Two is next weekend April 23-24 from Assen Netherlands.

Photo credits: Mark ‘Wally’ Walters

FIM Sidecars: Le Mans Bugatti Circuit poised to welcome 2022 opener

FIM Sidecars: Le Mans Bugatti Circuit poised to welcome 2022 opener

FIM Sidecars: Le Mans Bugatti Circuit poised to welcome 2022 opener

Race action from Le Mans

The weekend of April 15-17 sees the traditional Le Mans 24-hour endurance race for solo teams contesting the 2022 WEC series. Against this prestigious backdrop, the FIM Sidecar World Championship gets underway with two races on their programme.

It has been a long, hard winter with the usual off-track battles to secure funding and the necessary support by all the teams.

The uncertain climate in the wake of the global pandemic has shaken confidence and security across the sporting world, and this has had its impact on entries for the opening round. Despite this, we have fifteen crews confirmed, with a few late entries pending. All the key players apart from one team, will be making the trip to France to battle for points.

Five times Champion Pekka Pavairinta has much needed surgery on an upper arm/shoulder injury keeping him out of action for the early part of the season, and that will make a dent in the front-running pack. That apart, expect to see and strong scrap up front as Tim Reeves/Kevin Rousseau (Bonovo Action Adolf RS Yamaha) push for a ninth title for Tim, edging him closer to Steve Webster’s record.

The vastly experienced reigning champions Markus Schlosser/Marcel Fries (Gustoil Yamaha) showed a devastating level of speed and consistency last season and will be hoping to pick up where they left off. Never fast starters,
they were methodical in their race-craft, often leaving it until the final lap before making the move.

Former Champion Benny Streuer joined by German Kevin Kolsch is the sole Dutch contestant and now fully recovered from injury, is bound to be a force. Last year’s runners-up, the Santander Salt pairing of Todd Ellis and Emmanuelle Clement have additional help from Faye Ho’s FHO squad for 2022 and now sport new livery. They will be focussed on a good start to the new season, with championship glory in their sights. The young pair have the speed, they work well together, and must be one of the title favourites. Steve Kershaw/Ryan Charlwood (Kershaw Racing Yamaha) were also consistently in the mix last year but will need to raise their game even more to stay regularly with the front pack. That is something which will be at the forefront of their minds. Their strategy of sitting back and watching and waiting has stood them in good stead thus far.

Fastest of the locals is likely to be Ted Peugeot who does a great job with his father Vincent holding down his exuberance.

Newcomers Harry Payne and Mark Wilkes were outstanding in the final races of 2021. They return to the fray with every intention of making it a regular occurrence, as well as joining Tim Reeves and Kevin Rousseau at the Isle of Man TT.

Kevin Cable lines up with evergreen Charlie Richardson alongside for his second season. Now familiar with the tracks and the world scene, Kevin will surely be in for a productive and satisfying season if he displays the consistency and speed of last year.

Young Swiss Lukas Wyssen with Thomas Hofer in the chair will be on the tail of the leading bunch with promise of more to come from the Gustoil Racing teamsters. Add to these, a bunch of five other French challengers, and the scene is set for a battle royal, with race one on Friday, and race two Saturday morning before the Endurance race gets underway.

Photo credits: Mark ‘Wally’ Walters

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