The waiting is over, and we are a matter of a week or so away from the new British Sidecar Championship season. The Molson Group have once again pledged their support, and now in their fifth year of involvement, have assumed full title sponsorship.
The new season is full of promise, as all the teams are now under the new “ 600cc rule ” which will see a much more level playing field and closer racing.
Now aligned to the FIM World Championship, the 600cc formula is irrespective of chassis style, and is therefore open to long and short outfits alike. This will greatly simplify the sport, and get us back to the concept of “sidecar racing” regardless of configuration.
It will also allow those teams who regularly compete on the roads, to have the odd short circuit outing by way of preparation if they so choose.
There have been record entries for the championship this year, and grids at most rounds will in fact, be oversubscribed. This means that at Oulton Park, we will have a very full and colourful entry for the one twelve lap championship race.
Expect the action to be dramatic, with all the top teams returning from last year, including reigning world champions Ben and Tom Birchall on the Mitchells of Mansfield Yamaha.
They will meet stiff opposition from the current holders of the British crown, Steve Kershaw and Stuart Clark on the Santander Salt Yamaha experiencing 600cc power in their LCR for the first time.
Runners-up last year Todd Ellis and Charlie Richardson are well used to their CBR600 Honda, and are definitely a pair to watch. In the final race last year, they beat multiple world champions Tim Reeves and Mark Wilkes in a straight run to the flag at Brands Hatch.
Also making a return to the sidecar class, is the fan's BSB favourite Chris “The Stalker” Walker. Now riding for the Santander Salt/TAG Racing Yamaha team, he is partnered by Tom Christie, one of the three racing brothers. Chris is also returning to the scene of many epic battles in his Superbike days, and is really up for the sidecar challenge, as he feels he has unfinished business on three wheels.
Double former champions Ricky Stevens and Ryan Charlwood have been strong advocates of the move to 600cc power, so expect them to be a resurgent force on the Quattro Plant/JG Speedfit Kawasaki at Oulton Park.
There many other fancied teams, all using 600's for the first time, so we are expecting a real cocktail of race action with no-one writing the script in this new chapter for the championship.
The Monday afternoon race will be live on Eurosport, with highlights available later on www.rkb-f1-sidecars.com
Media Matters Barry Nutley