(Sorry no photos on this one, my mistake, too slow downloading and the link expired)
This famous track in Rijeka Croatia was the perfect setting to begin the second half of what has been a stunning season of racing so far.
The twenty-three-point advantage held by Santander Salt’s Todd Ellis and Emmanuelle Clement would need protecting, as main rivals Markus Schlosser/Marcel Fries knew full well that everything was still to play for at this stage of the year.
In scorchingly hot conditions, the teams prepared for a replay of the amazing racing from Hungary just a few days before. Free practice on the 2.6 miles circuit with its long straights, got underway prompt at 1pm on Friday. All teams spent the session in familiarisation and set-up, with no dramas or problems to report.
Following the great show provided in Donington Park, the FIM Sidecar World Championship crews were determined to repeat that display at Assen.
With only two points splitting the top two teams, it was all to play for as the season hit the half-way stage.
Hot but cloudy conditions greeted the free practice session for the fourteen crews making the trip. There might easily be no stopping Markus Schlosser/Marcel Fries (Gustoil Racing LCR) and they played their hands early coming out on top with a 1.43.552.
Steve Kershaw/Ryan Charlwood (Quattro Yamaha), inspired by victory in Donington were second quickest from defending Champion Tim Reeves/Kevin Rousseau (Bonovo Action Adolf RS Yamaha), ahead of Santander Salt’s Todd Ellis/Emmanuelle Clement.
For the second time in a matter of weeks, The FIM Sidecar World Championship runs alongside the World SBK series.
The venue this time being the famous “Cathedral of Speed” Assen circuit in Holland where there is an almost fanatical support for the “Zijspan” class. The tradition of sidecar racing in The Netherlands goes back long way with Egbert Streuer and Bernard Schnieders winning three consecutive titles in the eighties.
Close racing and late drama at Pannoniaring Hungary
Hot, dry conditions would guarantee a great weekend on a newly resurfaced track. Free practice was a close affair, with the top four crews studying each other and the general situation. Tim Reeves/Kevin Rousseau set the standard from Markus Schlosser/Marcel Fries and veteran Pekka Paivarinta/Ilse de Haas. Kees Endeveld capsized his outfit without injury to either occupant.
After what has seemed an eternity, the FIM Sidecar World Championship explodes into life at Le Mans alongside the FIM EWC World Endurance Championship. With Covid-19 protocols strictly in place at the circuit, the presence of spectators is not allowed at this the first round, but with the vaccine programmes being rolled out across Europe, hopes are high for a resumption of normal business at the earliest opportunity. Support has been strong for Le Mans, with twenty crews from six nations on the entry list.
There can be no denying that what the world is going through with the Coronavirus pandemic right now, is something none of us has ever lived through before. We have all heard our parents and grandparents waxing lyrical about the hardships that “The War” brought to their daily lives. Indeed Uncle Albert from Only Fools and Horses coined the phrase “durin’ the war” to the constant annoyance of Rodney and Del Boy.
The unprecedented changes and restrictions being imposed on us are hard to take, but we all understand the reasons why. We have hitherto lived our lives in our own bubble of protected and precious existence whatever form that might take, and for those of us in this great circle of sidecar racing, it is a special bubble. We have seen the unimaginable happen in the sporting world with Premier League and International football matches cancelled or postponed indefinitely. The mighty Formula One, MotoGP, the Isle of Man TT and World Superbike, along with all other major sporting events where large crowds gather, have all been put on the back burner until goodness knows when. The British Superbike Championship, with whom we run our series, will make those decisions on our behalf, and theirs is not an easy task. Stuart Higgs and his team have tough calls to make over the next few weeks, and we can only watch and wait.
I am, and always have been, a purveyor of joy and hope – ever the optimist, and I would like to say to you right now that if you sit tight for a couple of weeks, it will be business as usual. But the bottom line is that we simply do not know when this will end, so we must stay ready, remain positive and aim for the golden moment when the wheels turn again in anger.
We’re all dressed up, raring to go, and the party has yet to start – but it will. We have championships to fight for, both British and World, and we have the third running of the absolutely brilliant Cadwell Sidecar Revival to look forward to. The anticipation will only get stronger, and when we return to action – what fantastic action it will be.
Stay strong everyone, stay positive and keep out of trouble, but above all, follow the common sense Government guidelines, and we will all be together on the grid once restrictions are lifted. Meanwhile, keep polishing and dreaming.
The RKB-F1 team wishes you all the very best through this difficult time.
From an FIM Press Release 15/01/20, see the FIM site on the logo above.
The FIM has reached an agreement with Santander to collaborate on the promotion of the FIM Sidecar World Championship. The official contract will be signed soon.
Today FIM and Santander are pleased to announce the 2020 provisional calendar
April 18-19 Le Mans – France May 16-17 Lausitzring – Germany June 27-29 Pannoniaring – Hungary TBA – TBC – Great Britain August 29-30 Rijeka – Croatia September 17-20 Assen – Netherlands October 3-4- Oschersleben – Germany October 24-25 Estoril – Portugal