Superside FIM Sidecar World Championship round wide open. Two new names lead the Superside FIM Sidecar World Championship into it& ...
Superside FIM Sidecar World Championship round wide open.
Two new names lead the Superside FIM Sidecar World Championship into it’s second round at AA Kyalami, relegating 2001 world champions Klaus Klaffenböck and Christian Parzer to third in the standings with eight times world champion Steve Webster and Paul Woodhead out of the top 10.
Experience and cunning came together, with a little luck, in round one of the championship at Valencia, with the wily Steve Abbott from Derbyshire in England coming out on top to take only his fourth win in 20 years of world championship racing. Abbott and passenger Jamie Biggs, with backing from high performance engine developers Maxsym for their 1120cc Yamaha FZR based engine, held on for the win after Webster and Woodhead, who had dominated the race from the outset, slowed with their Suzuki powered machine running on only two cylinders.
Webster and Woodhead streaked into the lead at Valencia and dominated until the 16th lap, when engine problems saw him dropping back down through he field. "Our engine cases cracked, and the screw that holds the ignition pick-up in place dropped out," said Webster.
"It's a problem we've had before, but we know what we need to do so we just have to go home and do some work. We managed to keep going to finish 11th and get some points.
“ At the end of the year those points may mean the difference between winning and losing."
Returning as privateers in 2002 German champion Jörg Steinhausen, teamed again with Englishman Trevor Hopkinson, took a strong second at Valencia. Without sponsorship, the Steinhausen Racing team have been doing it the tough way and are using last year’s LCR chassis and the same“ freshened up” Suzuki GSXR1200 engines.
World champions, Klaffenböck and Parzer, had their first real session under Yamaha power, albeit on the 2001 model engine. "We are using a 2001 Yamaha R1 engine and are a little short on power," said Klaffi.
"It's not top speed that we are lacking but the power to drive out of corners. But we hope to get a 2002 R1 engine with fuel injection soon."
Stuart Muldoon, a new signing for liveonscreen.com Racing, finished a creditable fourth in his first outing with Suzuki power and passenger Andy Peach. The hard charging Scot should be a regular on the podium in 2002, and with his improved fitness is one to watch at AA Kyalami.
The change from LCR to Windle chassis has been good for Tom Hanks and Phil Biggs, even if engine reliability issues have risen with their Yamaha R1 engines. Valencia took its toll early on the usually reliable Hanks powerplant and they were happy with fifth place, but are looking for more.
Dolf Hänni’s prediction before the Valencia event of“ a top 10 finish, maybe fifth or sixth”, was right on the money. Hänni races with Markus Schlosser, who returns to Superside after a two-year absence. Schlosser, with limited four-stroke experience, dealt with the top 10 with ease, and is expected on the podium within the first half of the season.
Roger Lovelock also made his return to the World Championship scene in Valencia, paired with world championship rookie, Gary Yendell. The Diet Get Fit team scored seventh place, setting the scene for a very competitive season.
With Superside competition increasing in 2002, the AA Kyalami race is primed and ready to go. Webster will look to return to the top of the leaderboard, while Klaffenbock will try out the 2002 Yamaha R1 with fuel injection, but don’t rule out privateer Steinhausen or championship leaders, Abbott and Biggs with their fire breathing Maxsym Yamaha.
The left-handed circuit, as with Valencia, means that chassis setup will be critical. But add in the hills and very fast sweeping corners of the AA Kyalami circuit, and the winner may come from those that make the best of the available rear rubber.