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