Another Drama filled day of Superside Action. The 4th round of the Superside FIM Sidecar World Championship started and ended with more controversy and drama for the two leading teams of World Championship leaders Tim & Tristan Reeves, and...
Another Drama filled day of Superside Action.
The 4th round of the Superside FIM Sidecar World Championship started and ended with more controversy and drama for the two leading teams of World Championship leaders Tim & Tristan Reeves, and their closest rivals Jorg Steinhausen & Trevor Hopkinson.
Match Race - Final
The first drama of the day came in the Match Race Final, held over 3 short laps of the Schleiz circuit with winners of Saturday's Semi-Finals -Gatt and Reeves - and the remaining four fastest teams from those two races - Steinhausen, Manninen, Paivarinta, and Laidlow.
World Championship leaders Tim & Tristan Reeves had a problem with their Team Roberts Racing machine minutes before the start. In a desperate attempt to salvage the race the brothers arrived late on the grid aboard the borrowed the Sourcecom machine of Billy Gallros & Johnny Briggs. However the FIM officials declared that because they hadn't qualified on the machine, they could not start the race - and in a fiery display of disapproval, the pair stormed off of the grid, later receiving a ticking off from the Clerk of the Course about 'inappropriate sign language'!
The Reeves brothers departure left the way open for Steinhausen to potentially take maximum points and move closer to the world championship leaders. But once again there was more incident, as at the first corner Andy Laidlow & Patrick Farrance left their braking slightly too late and rammed into the back of Pekka Paivarinta & Peter Wall, sending both machines spinning off the circuit.
That left just three remaining sidecars in the race, and it was Tero Manninen & Pekka Kuismanen who lead the opening lap ahead of Steinhausen & Hopkinson, and Richard Gatt & Paul Randall on the GRS Racing LCR-Suzuki. Steinhausen took his time to get past the Finns, but eventually pulled away for a convincing win ahead of Manninen and Gatt. Paivarinta & Wall rejoined the race to claim 4th position, and Laidlow was credited with 5th ahead of the non starting Reeves in 6th - claiming a valuable 10 points.
Relative calm returned for the 11 lap Sprint Race. Reeves had sorted his problem - found to be a faulty Earth Wire - and battled with Steinhausen throughout to score a 0.13s win. Behind the Finns were having their own private race, with Pekka Paivarinta & Peter Wall just getting the better of Tero Manninen & Pekka Kuismanen by a similar margin.
Hoping to repeat their earlier podium, Richard Gatt & Paul Randall's race ended when the chain snapped on their machine. Fifth across the line was the returning Scotsman Stuart Muldoon with English passenger Paul Knapton. Muldoon, who won the 1998 Czech GP, was having his first World Championship race since the end of 2003 but missed the Match Races after engine problems in qualifying.
Bryan Pedder & Rod Steadman took 6th position on the second Team Roberts Racing machine in front of Martien & Tonnie van Gils, and Josef Moser & Ueli Wafler.
Bill Gallros & Johnny Briggs on the Sourcecom BG Racing machine, and Sepp Doppler & Bernard Wagner of the Team Gemini LCR-Yamaha rounded out the top ten places.
In the late afternoon sunshine, the teams lined up for the final race of the day, the 22 lap, 83 kilometre Gold Race. Steinhausen & Hopkinson were on Pole position with Tim & Tristan Reeves and Tero Manninen & Pekka Kuismanen completing the front row.
As the pack headed into the tight first turn Richard Gatt & Paul Randall seemingly locked the front wheel and clashed with Sepp Doppler & Bernard Wagner. Randell who came off the worst after being flung from the sidecar into the straw bales, and the pair were out of the race on the spot to end a day of highs and lows for the GRS team.
Tim & Tristan Reeves took the initial lead but then a game of cat and mouse developed when Reeves slowed down to allow Steinhausen to lead so he could follow, but Steini & Hopkinson were not willing to take the bait - until they had no choice other than to go past or come to a complete standstill in front of the large and enthusiastic crowd.
Behind the two main protagonists, it was the battling Finns at it once again, as Paivarinta and Manninen swapped positions ahead of the impressive Josef Moser & Ueli Wafler on their Honda CBR powered Team Tirol machine. Stuart Muldoon & Paul Kapton were involved in a good scrap with Billy Gallros & Johnny Briggs in the opening laps, before Muldoon retired after 5 laps with a possible holed radiator caused by the amount of trackside stones still being kicked up.
For the middle part of the 83km race, the Team Roberts machine shadowed the Steinhausen Racing Q8 sidecar, eventually deciding to retake the lead with 6 laps to go. Reeves opened up a couple of seconds gap over the next three laps, but Steinhausen kept the pressure on to stay in touch.
On lap 13 the impressive Paivarinta & Wall were out of 3rd position when the Crankshaft failed on their LCR-Suzuki leaving rival countryman Manninen clear in 3rd position.
As the race wore on, Moser began to fade and was passed first by Gary & Dan Knight on the Redline Superbikes LCR-Suzuki, who were having another good ride to back up their 5th position in Nurburgring and then Martien & Tonnie van Gils on their Maton Racing Etec Suzuki. Bryan Pedder & Rod Steadman began to quickly move up the order as the race progressed into the later stages. Entering the final lap, Pedder was up to 4th position after passing Knight, but Reeves was in some kind of trouble, dropping a second a lap over the final two tours, and Steinhausen was inches behind as they accelerated towards the final right-left chicaine. It was then that the final piece of drama unfolded for the Schleiz weekend.
Along the straight and on the approach to the corner Reeves was holding a defensive line - no doubt having learned from the Nurburgring incident. But the crowd favourites Jorg Steinhausen & Trevor Hopkinson tried to make a last ditch attempt aiming for the inside. Perhaps Steinhausen was caught out by the slightly slower machine of Reeves, and the German appeared to drop the rear wheel of the LCR-Suzuki into the gravel, perhaps in an attempt not to collide with Reeves. Unfortunately for the German/Anglo pair their machine then skidded to the left and flipped over at high speed, throwing Hopkinson hard into the straw bales, whilst Steinhausen was trapped under the upside-down machine as it slammed into another set of bales.
Tim & Tristan Reeves, unaware of the incident behind continued to the chequered flag to take their second victory of the weekend - surprised that Steinhausen hadn't managed to out power their struggling machine to the finish line.
Manninen & Kuismanen were another surprised pair, not realising they had been promoted to 2nd position by Steini's exit, while a Bryan Pedder & Rod Steadman were just 1.5s behind to secure their first ever Podium position in the World Championship.
Father and Son team, Gary & Dan Knight snatched 4th position in the final stages, their best ever result, with the other father & son team of Martien & Tonnie van Gils in 5th. Veteran Billy Gallros and passenger Johnny Briggs were 6th with Josef Moser & Ueli Wafler dropping back to 7th at the flag.
But the last corner incident was foremost in people's minds. Steinhausen was taken by helicopter to hospital as a precaution, after immediately complaining of neck pains at the scene of the incident, while passenger Trevor Hopkinson was taken to the local Hospital with suspected broken wrist and broken ribs after the spectacular crash.
So once again, Superside produced Contravercy, Close Racing, Drama and Incident. Has the Steinhausen crash now almost handed the Championship to the English pair, or will the German be fit for the next round at Salzburgring in Austria? We will see how the story unfolds over the next few weeks.