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Report from round three, Superside FIM Sidecars

FIM Superside

By Ian Guy,
June 21 2005

Superside FIM Sidecar World Championship, round three, the Nürburgring, Germany. Race report: Drama round and round at the Ring.

The drama of Superside started before the teams even started an engine on race day here at the Nürburgring, for round three of the FIM Sidecar World Championship, as news filtered through that overnight the reigning World Champions and pole position men Steve Webster and Paul Woodhead had withdrawn from the event.

Webster has been having some health problems since last winter, and during the second qualifying found that he was losing his concentration and making several mistakes – something which the Yorkshireman isn’t known for. The difficult decision was made to withdraw from the race rather than risk having an accident.
“It’s a difficult decision for any racer to have to make, but Steve has made the right one as he was concerned for both of our safety on the track,” said an obviously disappointed Woodhead.

With the Castrol Suzuki out of the way, the rest of the grid moved up one place, and the new front row consisted of Tim and Tristan Reeves taking over the pole position, ahead of the German favourites Steinhausen and Roscher. But there was more drama, as Roscher and Hänni pulled into the pit-lane at the end of the warm-up lap. “The clutch is finshed” said Hänni.

photo courtesy of Mark ‘Wally’ Walters /
picture courtesy of Mark ‘Wally’ Walters /

When the race got underway Steinhausen and Reeves were side by side down the long drag to the ridiculously tight Turn 1, with Andy Laidlow and Patrick Farrance getting a good start from the second row, to make it three abreast as they approached the corner. Steinhausen squeezed his Q8 Suzuki to the front, with Laidlow slotting in behind Reeves. But it wasn’t long before the Team Roberts machine forced into the lead on lap four and attempted to put some distance between himself and the pursuers. Steinhausen hung onto the tail of Reeves as behind, Richard Gatt and Paul Randall quickly made up positions from their ninth grid slot on the GRS Racing Suzuki to go fourth behind Laidlow.

But the battle at the front was capturing the attention of the sunbaked crowd as Steinhausen tried to pass Reeves into Turn 1. The two machines touching as they rounded the corner – and Steinhausen raising his hand apologetically to the Englishmen. Lap after lap the pair were nose to tail as they thundered around the ‘short Ring’.

Dan Morrissey and Rob Biggs gave themselves a lot of work to do when they spun their Team Advan Excalibur Suzuki out of tenth position, stalling the engine and losing 30 seconds trying to find neutral to allow the motor to re-start. The determined pair set off after the pack, and produced their fastest lap of the weekend as they fought back into the top fifteen.

Austrian wildcard rider Josef Moser, and his Swiss passenger Ueli Wafler, were having a good ride and involved in a tremendous scrap with Pekka Päivärinta and Peter Wall, Bryan Pedder and Rod Steadman on the second Team Roberts sidecar, Bill Philp and Rick Long on the 155 Media Yamaha, Martien and Tonnie van Gils, and the other father and son team of Gary and Dan Knight. The battling six providing several passing manoeuvres each lap. On lap 18 Gatt and Randall were missing from fourth position. The GRS Racing machine had melted the exhaust housing, causing the Kent team to retire as Richard’s feet were burning.

Then two laps later Pedder and Steadman’s great race was over. After getting into fifth position Steadman lost his footing exiting the chicaine, after the machine began to spray oil over the passenger, and tumbled out of the sidecar. He was quickly on his feet, but Pedder continued for another half a lap – to the first left hander - before realising he had lost his partner.

But the drama of the event wasn’t over yet. As Reeves and Steinhausen started their final lap, the German made a desperate attempt down the inside into Turn 1. Opinion was divided over who was to blame for what happened next, but the two machines clashed at the apex of the corner, and Reeves was sent spinning to the outside of the circuit.

The brothers were quickly back on track, and angrily chasing after the German who by now was creating a smoke screen from damaged bodywork rubbing against the sidecar tyre. As they entered the final turn, Reeves was just feet behind, but could not pass Steinhausen – as passenger Hopkinson leant across and ripped the damaged sidecar wheel arch off the machine and tossed it aside as they crossed the finish line to take a popular win in front of their home crowd.

But still there was more controversy, as firstly Tim and Tristan Reeves refused to attend the podium ceremony – an action that cost them a fine of $1000. And then there was a protest against the riding of the German. Ultimately the FIM Jury decided it was a racing incident, and the result stood as the first World Championship win for Jörg Steinhausen and Trevor Hopkinson since the end of 2003.

With Webster and Woodhead seemingly now out of the series for the foreseeable future, the antics of two of sidecar racing’s younger, harder chargers, both aiming for their first World Championship title will likely cause more drama and controversy before the year is over!

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