“Reeves and Wilkes back with a bang”
With the temperature way up in the thirties the sun kissed crowed saw a great sidecar race to start the 2018 championship.
As the lights went out the pole sitting team went backwards. Ben and Tom Birchall “LCR” Yamaha,bogged their machine down off the line. They were swallowed up by the perusing pack and were to head into the first corner in seventh place, however they had made a place by the time they hit the first chicane. This bad start left the team with a lot of work to do if the wanted to be fighting for the lead.
It was Tim Reeves and Mark Wilkes, “Adolf RS” Yamaha, who got the whole shot into the first complex of corners followed by Bennie Streuer and Kevin Rousseau, “LCR” Kawasaki, right on Streuer/Rousseau’s tail was Ricky Stevens and Ryan Charlwood, “LCR” Kawasaki, with John Holden and Lee Cain, “LCR” Kawasaki, alongside.
Pekka Paivarinta and Jussi Veravainen, “LCR” Honda, slotted in behind Holden and Cain. Lucas Wyssen and Thomas Hofer, “LCR” Yamaha, lost out to the Birchall Brothers by the first chicane but were in a solid seventh place.
As the race started to settle down after the frantic start, Reeves/Wilkes were taking command at the front. However Streuer/Rousseau were up for the battle, they were however having to fend off Stevens/Charlwood, who were trying their hardest to get up into the second place spot. The Birchall Brothers by this time were on the charge; they had managed to get up to fourth spot and got by Stevens/Charlwood leaving them to give chase to Streuer/Rousseau. There was a bit of a gap by this time between Streuer/Rousseau, and Stevens/Charlwood.
This left the Birchall Brothers having to push hard again to close the gap on Streuer/Rousseau. Further back Paivarinta/Veravainen had managed to get by Holden/Cain, and they were on the charge too, trying to close the gap on the Birchall Brothers. The Birchall Brothers caught and passed Streuer/Rousseau, and they were on the charge again trying to catch Reeves/Wilkes.
It looked like Streuer/Rousseau were starting to have problems, their times were dropping and it looked like they were having handling problems. Paivarinta/Veravainen managed to catch and pass Streuer/Rousseau after Streuer had to wrestle with his machine. The day was to turn out worse for Streuer/Rousseau, on the twelfth lap of the race their rear tyre exploded causing the team to go off track, and their machine turned upside down. Both Streuer and Rousseau were unhurt in the incident, but a DNF was not what they wanted at the first round of the championship.
By the closing stages of the race the Birchall Brothers had caught right up to the back of Reeves/Wilkes, however both teams were well matched, Reeves was faster in certain sections of the track, but the Birchall Brothers were faster in other sections than Reeves. As the two teams rounded the last corner for the flag it was Reeves/Wilkes who took a very popular race win, with the Birchall Brothers taking an equally popular second place. There was only 0.515 between the two teams over the line. Ben and Tom Birchall were credited with the fastest lap time, 1:44.434.
Paivarinta and Veravainen took the last podium spot and were really pleased with this.
John Holden and Lee Cain managed to catch and pass Stevens/Charlwood who were having gear change issues again. Holden/Cain were pleased with the result. This left Stevens/Charlwood finishing in fifth spot behind Holden/Cain.
Wyssen/Hofer had a bit of a lonely race at the end but they were really pleased with their sixth place.
Seventh place went to Michael Grabmuller and Sebastien Lavorel, “LCR” Yamaha. They had a great battle with Janez Remse and Eamon Mulholland, “Adolf RS” Yamaha, who finished in eighth place.
Another team who DNF in the closing quarter of the race, and had been in good solid seventh place for most of the race, was Scott Lawrie and Michael Fairhurst, “LCR” Yamaha. A small stone managed to get into the airbox and jam the throttle butterflys. The team was disappointed, but their engine is still intact.
A great ninth place went to Sam and Adam Christie, the team were overjoyed with their first World Champioship placing.
Rounding off the top ten places was Philippe Le Bail and Serge Leveau on their “LCR” Yamaha.
The next round will be at the Slovakia Ring in just over three weeks’ time.