FIM Sidecars – Sidecar Festival to provide classic backdrop for round seven

FIM Sidecars – Sidecar Festival to provide classic backdrop for round seven

FIM Sidecars – Sidecar Festival to provide classic backdrop for round seven

Ellis/Clement lead Kershaw/Charlwood

The Motorsport Arena of Oschersleben, mid-way between Hanover and Berlin is the scene of the penultimate round in the FIM Championship 2022. The popular and demanding 2.3-mile-long circuit will welcome Todd Ellis and Emmanuelle Clement (Santander Salt Yamaha) as series leaders on September 30-October 2 after a six week break in World Championship activities.

They enjoy a forty-one-point margin over reigning and defending champions Markus Schlosser and Marcel Fries (Gustoil Yamaha) with Steve Kershaw/Ryan Charlwood (Quattro Yamaha) a further twenty-three points behind in third.

This event is very much a sidecar festival, with rounds of the IDM German Championship also on the race card, along with Camathias Cup Championship runners and demonstration parades for pre-85 and pre-91 sidecar racing machines.

The FIM races are the highlight of the weekend having attracted a significant entry list including a strong French contingent headed by Ted and Vincent Peugeot, currently placed seventh in the series.

But for a pedantic UK border control situation ahead of the Donington Park round, they would be in an even stronger position.

Harry Payne and Mark Wilkes will not be competing due to a change of personal circumstances, so fifth place in the standings is very much up for grabs. Lukas Wyssen and Thomas Hofer sit fourth, having had their best season yet.

Pekka Pavairinta and Ilse de Haas re-join the action, with the five-times champion Finn now suitable recovered from shoulder surgery.

Ellis/Clement must maximise their chances, because at the season finale in Estoril, there will be double points on the table. That is something all the teams will be starkly aware of. One slip, and it could all be for nothing.

Photo credit: Mark ‘Wally’ Walters

British F1: The cat is away, so who will play, 1-2 October at Donington Park?

British F1: The cat is away, so who will play, 1-2 October at Donington Park?

British F1: The cat is away, so who will play, 1-2 October at Donington Park?

Christies at Snetterton

The British Sidecar Championship goes to Donington Park without the series leaders present to enhance their advantage. Santander Salt Racing’s Todd Ellis and Emmanuelle Clement are away in Germany protecting their lead in the FIM Sidecar World series, which is also reaching its conclusion.

That leaves the door wide open for second in the title stakes Sam and Tom Christie (CES Yamaha) to dramatically close the gap. They cannot however, overhaul Ellis/Clement who enjoy a fifty-five-point cushion currently, with one more round to go after Donington. That round at Brands Hatch carries double points however, so the title is far from won, even at this late stage.

Lewis Blackstock/Paddy Rosney sit third, a further forty-one points behind the Christies, so the Express Tyres Services Yamaha is still in with a shout, albeit a distant one. They appeared in the distinctive blue DAO1886 livery at Snetterton and that is expected to continue.

Ben and Tom Birchall made a debut 2022 appearance at Snetterton taking one race win and second place in the other, moving immediately into the lower order of the rankingsm with forty-five points. They are more than likely be at the sharp end again at Donington Park, so will steal big points from the title contenders. This will inadvertently assist Ellis’s cause.

George Holden and Oscar Lawrence crashed in a big way at Snetterton severely damaging their Holden Racing Kawasaki. It is therefore doubtful if they will re-appear at all this season due to the sheer amount of work and cost involved to repair it. Having said that, do not be surprised if they somehow scrape onto the grid, because an overall fourth place finish is at stake and determination can weave magic spells.

The top four are well clear of the chasing bunch, but Simon Robinson/Mick Fairhurst, and Rupert Archer/Phil Hyde have Craig Hauxwell/Derek Taylor and a rapidly improving Andy Peach/Anthony Hildige breathing down their collective necks. Just nineteen points split these four crews for the fifth-place spot, so expect a battle royal there.

Also heading for Germany are Kevin Cable/Charlie Richardson (L&W Contractors Yamaha), so they will not improve their standing in the British table ahead of Brands. They have a respectable placing in the FIM rankings to defend.

Once again, Eurosport will cover both races live, although timings will determine whether the races are in the live TV broadcast or confined to the Eurosport App. Either way the highlights will appear on the RKB-F1 YouTube Channel a few days later.

Photo credits: Barry Clay

British F1: One apiece for Birchalls and Ellis/Clement at sunny Snetterton

British F1: One apiece for Birchalls and Ellis/Clement at sunny Snetterton

British F1: One apiece for Birchalls and Ellis/Clement at sunny Snetterton

Birchalls at Snetterton

There was a sombre mood across the paddock early on Friday morning following the announcement of the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the previous evening. The MSVR organisers moved back the start time for Friday practice and scheduled an hour of “quiet period” at lunch time during which no engines would be run or track activity take place. Given the series’ title is “The British Superbike Championship” these measures were entirely appropriate.

Happily, there were several more teams present than in previous rounds, so we were looking forward to a busy weekend and close racing. Free practice across most classes took place in mixed weather conditions, but it was dry with patchy sun for the one sidecar session late on Friday afternoon.

Ben and Tom Birchall (Birchall Racing Haith Honda), along with series leaders Todd Ellis and Emmanuelle Clement (Santander Salt Yamaha) headed the field in the early stages of free practice, but well shy of lap record pace. Half-distance and Ellis took out another second, gathering pace and momentum all the time. The top four regulars ran fastest with the added interest of the Birchall Brothers high on the list as we might have expected, with newcomers Luke Williams/Jason Pitt the best of the rest. Already this was pointing towards a Birchall versus Ellis battle but qualifying would show the real picture. The Christie brothers (CES Yamaha), and Lewis Blackstock/Paddy Rosney (Express Tyre Services Yamaha) sporting Dao 1886 livery, were strong in contention ahead of George Holden/Oscar Lawrence. Luke Williams sneaked ahead of Holden with three minutes left on the clock.

Christies at Snetterton

Qualifying

The weather was dull and grey early morning but improved as the day unfolded. By the time the sidecars got out for qualifying, the sun had dried the track in parts, but there were still tricky areas to be mindful of.

Craig Currie was late to the start and was almost locked out of the session but scraped in through a side gate to make his mark.

Coram, the fast right-hander towards the end of the lap, was wet, and caught out several teams, with Todd Ellis spinning at high speed, and the Birchall brothers doing the same twice. Both teams avoided contact with anything, but the same is not true of George Holden/Oscar Lawrence who locked up under the bridge and totally wrecked the bike, hitting the barrier hard.

The expected clash between the Birchalls and Todd Ellis did eventually materialise, with the Honda of Birchall on top of the pile in the closing stages. As conditions improved, Ellis/Clement upped the pace, claiming pole position by over one tenth of a second on their final flying lap. The time of 2.00.974 was way off lap-record pace, but conditions were far from ideal for record speeds. Ben and Tom Birchall would join them on the front row. The Christie brothers were next up, with Blackstock/Rosney close behind. Then newcomers Luke Williams/Jason Pitt headed Craig Currie/Justin Sharp for fifth and sixth. Andy Peach and Anthony Hildige had a great ride to lead Rupert Archer/Phil Hyde home for seventh and eighth fastest.

Andy Peach at Snetterton

Race One

The sun was very low in the sky as the lights went out, so much so, that Ben Birchall didnot get a clear view and almost missed the boat. He was fourth away as the others moved and had to fight back as a result. Ellis/Clement got a flyer and took the lead into Riches.

Sam and Tom Christie went with them, with Lewis Blackstock/Paddy Rosney holding the Birchalls at bay for the early part of the lap. They quickly moved third, but the Christie brothers were a harder nut to crack. Once past them, Ben and Tom set after the race leaders and the two crews had a good scrap, with the Haith Honda determined to find a way past. Todd Ellis kept his cool, even when Ben Birchall came alongside at Riches as a dress rehearsal. Next lap he tried the same move, got his nose in front, went a little bit sideways and Ellis clipped the rear of the Honda. Both outfits slewed, with Ellis/Clement taking to the grass on the exit. They spent the rest of the race recovering and closing on the new leaders. They were close at the end, but the chance had gone. On their way to victory the Birchall brothers claimed the fastest lap, albeit outside their own lap record. Behind, the Christies were never far off the back, staying within five seconds of the two leaders the entire race. Blackstock and Rosney took the Express Tyre Services Yamaha to another solid fourth.

Race action from Snetterton

Andy Peach with Anthony Hildige alongside, had arguably his best race this season, and enjoyed a good battle mid-pack finishing sixth, with Rupert Archer also part of that action until he retired. Simon Robinson/Mick Fairhurst, from the back row fought through well and were looking impressive. Sadly, they too, were to expire into pit lane once more. There were decent scraps all the way down, with Craig Currie/Justin Sharp ten seconds behind Peach, having overhauled Kevin Cable/Chaz Richardson.

Result

1/ Birchall/Birchall (Haith Honda)
2/ Ellis/Clement (Santander Salt Yamaha)
3/ Christie/Christie (CES Yamaha)
4/ Blackstock/Rosney (DHR/Express Tyre Services Yamaha)
5/ Luke Williams/Jason Pitt (Williams Yamaha)
6/ Andy Peach/Anthony Hildige (Lifesafety Yamaha)
7/ Craig Currie/Justin Sharp (Birchall Racing Honda)
8/ Kevin Cable/Charlie Richardson (L&W Contractors Yamaha)
9/ Craig Clarke/Peter Ensor (Centurion Packaging Honda)
10/ Craig Hauxwell/Derek Taylor (Vinyls 4U Adolf RS)

Race two

The sun was out again on Sunday, and there was a score to be settled. A reverse grid always throws up an interesting race and this one was another cracker.

Kevin Cable/Charlie Richardson dived through from row two as the lights went out to lead off the line. It was short lived, as they were three abreast into Riches for the first time, with Andy Peach/Anthony Hildige also getting a flyer to nose alongside on the exit. Sam and Tom Christie were very quick to establish their place at the front, making a great start to lead at the end of lap one. The opening lap was crazily busy with outfits swarming right and left to make the most of the advantage. Half-way round the lap, Luke Williams and Jason Pitt lost the back end, spun, and capsized without injury. Todd Ellis/Emmanuelle Clement meanwhile, had fought through from row five, weaving through the lead bunch, taking the Birchall brothers with them two outfits back.

Ben and Tom were third on lap two, moving past the Christies one lap later. Also riding well were Lewis Blackstock and Paddy Rosney who made it through to fifth, and into fourth shortly after.

The pattern was then set for the race, with Ellis/Clement out in front from Birchall/Birchall, and the Christies chasing in a strong third, from Blackstock/Rosney.

Dean Nicholls had a problem at the back of the grid and slowed. They ran in eleventh for the entire race, eventually retiring on lap nine ahead of Craig Hauxwell/Derek Taylor. Craig Currie/Justin Sharp moved up one place from their start position, but whilst enjoying a good scrap with Andy Peach and Simon Robinson/Mick Fairhurst, were unable to improve beyond sixth, until the final lap when an intermittent problem slowed the Christies and dropped them down to seventh ahead of Rupert Archer/Phil Hyde. The Beverly based team suspected a quick-shifter issue, so will have that sorted for the next round. Sadly, they did not need to drop points at this stage, but at least they finished and maintained a full house of scores. Currie/Sharp, along with Simon Robinson and everyone else behind the CES Yamaha, profited from the Christies’ misfortune. Most delighted were Lewis Blackstock and Paddy Rosney who took the Express Tyre Services Yamaha with its new Dao1886 livery to their first podium since early August at the Cadwell Revival.

Race action from Snetterton

Kevin Cable meanwhile had been very active in scrapping with the Honda of Craig Clarke/Peter Ensor to finish ninth and tenth respectively.

This was yet another best performance by Andy Peach (Lifesafety Yamaha) in many races, and he was to end up fourth within sight of sixth place in the standings. At the front, Ellis/Clement never looked back, opening a two second margin at one point, but that was shaved down to under one second on the final lap, with the Birchalls again setting the fastest lap of the race on their way to runner-up spot.

On a sad and sombre weekend, the sidecars gave a thoroughly entertaining and disciplined display, covered live on the Eurosport App/Player. Both races will be available shortly on the RKB-F1 YouTube channel.

Result

1/ Ellis/Clement
2/ Birchall/Birchall
3/ Blackstock/Rosney
4/ Peach/Hildige
5/ Currie/Sharp
6/ Robinson/Fairhurst
7/ Christie/Christie
8/ Archer/Hyde,
9/ Cable/Richardson
10/ Clarke/Ensor
11/ Hauxwell/Taylor

Standings

Ellis/Clement 320
Christie/Christie 265
Blackstock/Rosney 224
Holden/Lawrence 172
Robinson/Fairhurst 117
Archer/Hyde 103
Hauxwell/Taylor 99
Peach/Edwards/Hildige 98
Clarke/Ensor 66
Cable/Richardson 63
Birchall/Birchall 45

The next and penultimate round is at Donington Park – September 30/October 2.

Photo credits: Barry Clay

British F1: Ellis and Clement take unbeaten form to Snetterton 300

British F1: Ellis and Clement take unbeaten form to Snetterton 300

British F1: Ellis and Clement take unbeaten form to Snetterton 300

Ellis and Clement

With a full house of eleven victories from as many starts, the Santander Salt pairing of Todd Ellis and Emmanuelle Clement will arrive in Norfolk in record breaking form over the weekend of 10-11 September.

Two weeks ago, at Cadwell Park they demolished the lap record twice to confirm the fastest ever three wheeled lap time. It remains to be seen if they can manage the same at the very fast and technical Snetterton 300 track.

They now enjoy a commanding lead in the points table from Beverley based Sam and Tom Christie on the CES Yamaha. They in turn are well clear of a somewhat frustrated Lewis Blackstock/Paddy Rosney (DHR/Express Tyre Services Yamaha) who have suffered one DNF and a mysterious loss of speed since double victory at Knockhill propelled them to the head of the standings. They vowed to be at Snetterton with a fresh attitude and a quicker engine, so let us watch with interest how and if that pledge is fulfilled.

Closing rapidly in fourth with a string of podium finishes are George Holden and Oscar Lawrence on their Holden Racing Kawasaki. Their speed has steadily increased over the season, but they still must find the top podium step.

Blackstock/Rosney

One year ago, Ben and Tom Birchall were double winners on this track on their way to the title, but they have yet to register an attendance or any points in the series this season. That should change, as they have signalled their intention to compete, along with fellow Birchall Racing teamsters Craig Currie and Justin Sharpe. The grid is much stronger than in previous weeks anyway with some new names joining the fray. Dean Nicholls and Belgian passenger Ruben Janssens are back to see the year out, and former car racer Luke Williams is down to join in the action. World runners Kevin Cable and Charlie Richardson (L&W Contractors Yamaha) are also on the list of returning crews. The Snetterton circuit is a favourite with teams and spectators alike and at this crucial stage in the championship is bound to deliver great racing action.

Race action from Snetterton

Every round so far has been very close at the front, with great battles between the top four teams. Eurosport once again will cover both races either live TV or the Eurosport App.

Photo credits: Jenny “Triker” Wells

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