FIM Sidecars: Ellis/Clement and Kershaw/Charlwood on top of the podium
For the first time in years, the sidecars shared the stage with World Superbikes, and although Covid protocols made integration across the paddock difficult, the sense of occasion was palpable. The Donington Park track was in fine fettle, and weather perfect for free practice. The top crews in the title chase were all in action, with a good contingent of British regulars giving them food for thought.
Tim Reeves and Kevin Rousseau were philosophical about the Hungary disqualification, and determined to put it behind them with a strong performance here on home-ground.
Qualifying – In sunny humid temperatures, one whole hour in two chunks was a luxurious amount of time to claim pole position, but as always, the fast times came later in the opening session.
Early running took Reeves/Rousseau (Bonovo Action Yamaha) into provisional pole, as the rest of the field settled in. It was not the first time at Donington for Todd Ellis’s female passenger. She had already done a club meeting here and knew her way round. That almost certainly helped her partner Ellis’s Santander Salt Yamaha to the fastest time later in the session. Also going well were Lewis/Paddy Rosney who chased Markus Schlosser home in fourth. Next up were Kershaw/Charlwood from the Christie brothers and Biggs/Schmitz. Pekka Paivarinta/Ilse de Haas were eighth fastest almost two seconds back from pole time.
Session two, late in the day saw track and ambient temperature both high, with everything to play for. Todd Ellis went straight in with a sub-lap record time, sending a strong message to the field.
Tim Reeves put in a far greater number of laps than his young rival but seemed unable to better his time of 1.36.820. Paivarinta moved sixth, but few others improved from the opening session. Ellis, however, was the exception to the rule, as he and Emmanuelle Clement claimed pole late on with a time of 1.36.479.
Race One –
The weather had changed completely overnight, and race-day dawned wet and cool. The rain at times was torrential, but things had improved considerably by the time the sidecars came to the line.
Tim Reeves and Kevin Rousseau made a great start to steal the lead over polesitters Ellis/Clement. The seven-times champion looked to be in great form as he stormed off round the opening lap. In the shuffle for Redgate, Tommy Philp/Tom Bryant had a coming together with Steve Kershaw/Ryan Charlwood damaging the sidecar wheel arch on Philp’s outfit, and ripping out the valve of the Kershaw’s rear wheel leaving him deflated. They lost two laps finding and fitting a replacement wheel but finished in twelfth place to score points. Philp was not so lucky and retired anyway as a result.
At the front, Reeves and Ellis were line astern in close company until Reeves and Rousseau got it slightly wrong going into the left bend at the top of Craner, causing the outfit to head straight onto the grass. Tim later suggested the exit from pitlane by Steve Kershaw as he re-joined the action was an untimely judgement by race direction, causing Tim to choose a different line out of Redgate. He and Kevin re-joined down in sixth place with work to do. This episode gave Ellis a four second margin he was not about to squander. There was no doubting the speed of Reeves and Rousseau as they set about making amends.
Behind Ellis/Clement, series leaders Schlosser and Fries were in a race-long tussle with Pekka Paivarinta/Ilse de Haas, and despite Tim Reeves recovering to set fastest lap, he could only manage to climb back to fourth. The strength further down the field was excellent with Sam/Adam Christie enjoying a brilliant battle with Lewis Blackstock/Paddy Rosney ahead of Santander Salt’s Rob Biggs/Jeroen Schmitz and Harry Payne/Mark Wilkes. John Holden and Jason Pitt were also early retirees, with John’s son George and Oscar Lawrence claiming ninth place. This result was off the back of a good seventh in the British Championship just one week ago. The future looks bright for Holden Junior and Oscar Lawrence. Rupert Archer and Kevin Cable were the next two finishers ahead of Kershaw/Charlwood.
Race One Result –
1/ Todd Ellis/Emmanuelle Clement (Santander Salt Yamaha)
2/ Markus Schlosser/Marcel Fries (Gustoil LCR Yamaha)
3/ Pekka Paivarinta/Ilse de Haas (Team 44 Racing Yamaha)
4/ Tim Reeves/Kevin Rousseau (Bonovo Action Yamaha
5/ Sam/Adam Christie (CES Yamaha),
6/ Lewis Blackstock/Paddy Rosney (Dave Holden Racing Yamaha)
7/ Rob Biggs/Jeroen Schmitz (Santander Salt Yamaha)
8/ Harry Payne/Mark Wilkes (LCR Yamaha)
9/ George Holden/Oscar Lawrence (LCR Suzuki)
10/ Rupert Archer/Phil Hyde (Hannafin RS Yamaha).
Race Two –
There was more uncertainty weatherwise with wind arriving and showers possible later in the race. There were already spots of rain in the air as the grid formed. It was made up as before from qualifying, so Kershaw needed to stay out of trouble this time. Ellis was back on pole position from Reeves and Schlosser. After a short delay, the race was declared a dry race with two warm-up laps and a seventeen-lap affair. Poor Schlosser blew a new engine on the warm-up lap, so his day was done.
Tim Reeves/Kevin Rousseau led after lap one with Kershaw/Charlwood getting a flyer in second place ahead of Blackstock/Rosney and race one winners Ellis/Clement.
Ellis moved third on lap three with Blackstock and Tommy Philp in close formation behind. Then came Paivarinta and Harry Payne/Mark Wilkes. Kershaw set the fastest lap so far on lap four, closing the gap on Reeves.
Lap five and Ellis was in second place just as Paivarinta moved up into fifth ahead of Philp/Bryant. Fastest lap then went to Todd Ellis as he closed in on the race leaders. Eighth place was held by the Christie brothers ahead of the Holdens John and George respectively.
Half distance and Reeves’s lead over Ellis was slashed to half a second as Paivarinta moved fourth past Blackstock/Rosney.
Kershaw/Charlwood were doing a brilliant job in third and looked in the hunt. It was always known they could deliver, and this was looking good. This trio were almost tied together as they each searched for the advantage.
Ellis’s best time was almost half a second faster than that of the race leader, so he had a bit to play with.
Philp and Bryant were having a storming ride in fifth and looking good for eleven points behind the flying Finn Paivarinta. He actually went one better at the flag. With two laps to go, the top three were ten seconds clear of Paivarinta with Reeves and Ellis almost on the same bit of tarmac.
Penultimate lap and Ellis was within one tenth looking menacing. To get by the seven-times champion would be no mean feat, so he had to stay cool.
Last lap and it was all to play for. Amazingly, with Reeves and Ellis scrapping hard on the final lap, there was some contact, but it was all in a day’s work. At the flag, it was a delighted Steve Kershaw and Ryan Charlwood who stole victory.
Race Two Result –
1/ Steve Kershaw/Ryan Charlwood (Quattro Yamaha)
2/ Tim Reeves/Kevin Rousseau (Bonovo Action Yamaha)
3/ Todd Ellis/Emmanuelle Clement (Santander Salt Yamaha)
4/ Tommy Philp/Tom Bryant (LCR Yamaha)
5/ Pekka Paivarinta/Ilse de Haas (Team 44 Yamaha)
6/ Lewis Blackstock/Paddy Rosney (LCR Yamaha)
7/ Sam/Adam Christie (CES Yamaha)
8/ Harry Payne/Tom Bryant (LCR Yamaha)
9/ John Holden/Jason Pitt (Barnes/Silicone Racing
10/ Rupert Archer/Phil Hyde (Hannafin Adolf RS)
Championship Standings –
The next round is from The Cathedral of Speed, Assen WorldSBK July 23-25.
Photos – Mark Walters