The famous Pannoniaring once again played host to the best sidecar racers and passengers in the world, and what a show they put on.
Series leaders by fourteen points at this mid-point of the season Todd Ellis and Emmanuelle Clement (Santander Salt Yamaha) came here with a job to do, and that was to extend their advantage over the Gustoil Yamaha Swiss pairing of Markus Schlosser and Marcel Fries. The reigning champions were not about to go quietly, and the fantastic racing emphasised just that.
Free practice took place on Friday in hot, sunny conditions, with the teams settling in nicely before two Saturday qualifying sessions. Todd Ellis/Emmanuelle Clement ran strongly, separated by three one hundredths of a second from rivals Markus Schlosser/Marcel Fries. Steve Kershaw/Ryan Charlwood were also in positive form, with eyes on big points.
Qualifying – Q1 was a very early start at 8.30am local time. Early or not, everyone was clearly wide awake and ready for action. From the word go, the lap times were up there with the best from free practice.
The Gustoil Yamaha of Schlosser/Fries was the first to dip into the 58’s with Streuer/Kolsch and Kershaw/Charlwood also looking good.
Ellis/Clement however, were in a class of their own, setting the bar at a new level on their second lap. They banged in a 1.55.885 on the Santander Salt Yamaha, pulling in and sitting back after five laps. This time put them well over one second faster than their Swiss rivals.
Benny Streuer/Kevin Kolsch were fractionally slower than Schlosser, giving them great hope for Q2. Ted and Vincent Peugeot continued their great form with a fantastic time just half a second off that set by Schlosser and fractions off Streuer. Kershaw and Harry Payne/Mark Wilkes were on the pace too with it all to play for next time out.
The second session saw Steve Kershaw/Ryan Charlwood improve into the 57’s, obviously intent on finding a bit more. Harry Payne/Mark Wilkes did the same, improving their time. Meanwhile, Todd Ellis was watching and waiting, as Schlosser/Fries did their utmost to close the gap.
The series leaders took to the track with a few minutes remaining even though they were looking good for pole position. There was no need, and the times from session one held good, proving to be a bridge too far for Markus Schlosser. The teams lined up for the two races with the Santander Salt Yamaha sitting proudly on pole, ahead of Schlosser, Streuer and Kershaw. Peugeot and Payne made up row three.
Fifteen laps awaited the crews forming up on the grid, and when the lights went out, the sprint to turn one was a busy one. Ambient temperature was twenty-eight degrees with the track significantly hotter.
Markus Schlosser went in too deep at turn one, and the Ellis/Clement machine was back in business at the front. Benny Streuer sat second at the end of the opening lap. Kershaw/Charlwood were fourth behind the Gustoil Yamaha of Schlosser, but this was a long race. It looked as if Ted Peugeot and Lukas Wyssen were going to repeat their scrap of Spa, as they were once again paired up. Moments later, Schlosser/Fries moved second, but almost two seconds behind the flying Santander Salt Yamaha of Ellis/Clement. Harry Payne/Mark Wilkes took the DAO1886 Yamaha past Peugeot and began to chase down Wyssen.
On lap four, the Schlosser outfit was on the back of Ellis, having chopped a large chunk out of the advantage. Schlosser/Fries were the fastest on track at this point. One third distance and it was Ellis, Schlosser, Streuer, Kershaw, Wyssen, Payne and Peugeot all within six seconds of each other. Then Harry Payne hit trouble with a split exhaust pipe and dropped out of the reckoning. Moments later they were out, their race over.
Still Markus Schlosser stalked Todd Ellis just three tenths adrift of the twenty- seven-year-old championship leader. Half-distance and it was a two-horse race, with Streuer hanging in a full second back. Suddenly the Dutch/German pairing found something extra and the battle at the front became a three-way scrap. Ted Peugeot got second wind and won his duel with Wyssen, relegating the Swiss crew to a familiar sixth position, and once again Streuer dropped off the top two.
Kevin Cable/Charlie Richardson held ninth and last place but continued to earn valuable title points for the L&W Racing team. In front of the, Kimeswenger/Sedlacek continued to make a fight of it, but by now the front two were split by just a fraction. With two laps to go, Kershaw was adrift of Streuer, with little chance of passing him before the flag.
Going into the final lap, Ellis had the gap managed at half a second, but Schlosser was always going to fight all the way.
1/ Todd Ellis/Emmanuelle Clement (Santander Salt Yamaha)
2/ Markus Schlosser/Marcel Fries (Gustoil Yamaha)
3/ Benny Streuer/Kevin Kolsch (Bonovo Action Yamaha)
4/ Steve Kershaw/Ryan Charlwood (Quattro Yamaha)
5/ Ted Peugeot/Vincent Peugeot (LCR Yamaha)
6/ Lukas Wyssen/Thomas Hofer (Gustoil Yamaha)
7/ Peter Kimeswenger/Ondrej Sedlacek (LCR Yamaha)
8/ Kevin Cable/Charlie Richardson (L&W Yamaha),
9/ Claude Vinet/Sebastian Arifon (LCR Yamaha),
All mechanical gremlins fixed, the grid was complete for the second outing and the weather was once again hot, if not hotter. Harry Payne had shown he could run well, so needed to make amends this time out. Fifteen laps was the scheduled race distance, with Markus Schlosser desperate to find an answer to the young Santander Salt teamsters. He knew at this stage of the season, he needed to stay close in the points. It was a tight thing in the drag to turn one, with Ellis nosing ahead of Schlosser, Streuer and Kershaw.
Payne/Wilkes got the better of Ted Peugeot and moved to fifth. At the end of lap one, Ellis/Clement enjoyed half a second over the Swiss. Lap three, and Kershaw/Charlwood had the Quattro Yamaha into third and began to ease
away from former champion Streuer. Harry Payne had the DAO1886 Yamaha fixed and flying in fifth ahead of Peugeot, Lukas Wyssen and Kevin Cable/Chaz Richardson. Ted/Vincent Peugeot were in the slipstream of Harry
Payne, sensing a move was possible, as Todd Ellis maintained a slender two-tenths over Schlosser. The elastic stretched and contracted, but Ellis/Clement kept the Santander Salt Yamaha ahead as they approached half race distance.
Steve Kershaw meanwhile was holding a good potential podium spot, only to lose it to Streuer as they began lap eight. There was nothing between the leading pair of outfits as they flashed over the line to begin lap nine. Kevin Cable was having a good scrap with Claude Vinet, as Harry Payne slipped back out of contention, leaving Ted Peugeot in a fine fifth place. This was a close race with just six seconds splitting the top six teams after twenty minutes of racing.
Ellis would need to hold his nerve as the Swiss once again closed in. They had been locked together for the entire race with Ellis fractionally ahead on lap times. Then drama on lap 12, as Streuer emerged leader with Ellis second. Schlosser had muscled past Ellis who dipped onto the grass, only for Ellis to return the compliment at the next turn. Streuer had posted the fastest lap of the race and it paid off. He was able to profit from the close fight between the two leaders. On the final lap, the lead gap was over one second with Schlosser down in fourth. Kershaw was in a provisional podium spot but lost out to the Swiss in the closing stages. Ellis in second place, increased his title lead, with Benny Streuer/Kevin Kolsch on the top step of the podium. Harry Payne/Mark Wilkes had another problem which dropped them behind Lukas Wyssen/Thomas Hofer into seventh, with Kevin Cable/Charlie Richardson also losing their battle with Vinet/Arifon.
1/ Benny Streuer/Kevin Kolsch
2/ Todd Ellis/Emmanuelle Clement
3/ Markus Schlosser/Marcel Fries
4/ Steve Kershaw/Ryan Charlwood
5/ Ted Peugeot/Vincent Peugeot
6/ Lukas Wyssen/Thomas Hofer
7/ Harry Payne/Mark Wilkes
8/ Claude Vinet/Sebastien Arifon
9/ Kevin Cable/Charlie Richardson
10/ Peter Kimeswenger/Ondrej Sedlacek
(Full standing as per FIM Website)
Round five is next weekend from Croatia June 24-26.
Photo credit: Mark ‘Wally’ Walters