Reeves et Cluze ont remporté la première manche de la saison dans des conditions très difficiles au Mans dans le Championnat du Monde FIM de Sidecar.
Ben et Tom Birchall ont remporté la catégorie F2.
Une heure avant le début de la course, de 18 tours, la pluie se mettait à tomber, changeant la donne de toute la course pour les 26 équipages sur la grille de départ.
La course a été stoppée après deux tours en raison des conditions météo et tout le monde s'est élancé à nouveau pour douze tours.
Prochaine manche en Croatie en juin.
Reeves and Cluze take first win of the year in horrendous conditions for the FIM Sidecar World Championship. With Ben and Tom Birchall taking their first win for the FIM Sidecar F2 World Trophy in the same race conditions.
One hour before the start of the 18 lap FIM Sidecar Championship and FIM Sidecar F2 World Trophy, all teams and pit crews were looking to the skies. Most machines had slick tyres fitted, but the rain was not far away. The heavens opened, and the rain fell. Four of the sidecar teams had arrived in the holding area before going out on track, with slicks on, they were franticly working to change tyres as other team’s arrived in to the holding area. One of the machines had to be moved into pit lane to let the rest of the teams through.
With 26 sidecars lined up on the grid weighting for the lights to go out the conditions were horrendous. As the lights went out it was Tim Reeves and Gregory Cluze on their “Remse Racing” LCR, Kawasaki who took the lead from Andy Peach and Charlie Richardson on their “Santander Salt/L&W” LCR, Kawasaki, then it was Pekka Paivarinta and Kirsi Kainulainen on their “44-Racing” LCR, BMW, with Sebastien Delannoy and Kevin Rousseau on their “Team Sand Seb 72” LCR, Suzuki on the outside, Ben and Tom Birchall with their “Birchall Racing” LCR, Honda were next up. After that it was anyone’s guess, as the spray from the track made it impossible to see who was where. The only people who could see were the first teams on track. After two laps it was decided on safety grounds that the race would be stopped, so the red flags came out. All teams returned to the pit lane, wondering what was going to happen. It was decided that the race would restart but it would be a 12 lap race.
As the light went out for the second start again it was Reeves and Cluze who got the hole shot from Peach and Richardson, they were followed by Markus Schlosser and Thomas Hofer on their “Sidecar Racing Team Schlosser” LCR, Suzuki, Then it was Paivarinta and Kainulainen followed by the Birchall Brothers.
There was an incident involving Brian Gray and Adam Christie on their “Brian Gray’s Powerbiking” LCR, Yamaha, they took a spin and were stuck in the middle of the track, the pair were praying that they would not be struck by any other sidecar, all was good until the last outfit went to pass them, and they too went into a spin with their back wheel hitting the front of Gray and Christie’s machine. The race was over for Gray and Christie with damage to the steering of their machine and to the body work. Both Gray and Christie were uninjured in the incident.
With only two laps of the restarted race gone, the second place team of Peach and Richardson were to go into a spin with their machine, they managed to slow the spin down but unfortunately for them the machine was to turn upside down, they were not to continue in the race.
Another team were not to finish the race. Mike Roscher and Anna Burkard on their “Roscher-Burkard Penze 13 Racing” LCR, BMW, were to pull into pit lane on lap three. Driver Roscher had decided that it was too dangerous to continue in the race.
As the race progressed and the teams had all settled down into a rhythm, still in terrible conditions, it was Reeves and Cluze setting the pace. With Peach and Richardson out it was Paivarinta and Kainulainen who slotted into second place, they had managed to overhaul Schlosser and Hofer. Ben and Tom Birchall had managed to get up close to Schlosser/Hofer on the first of the F2 machines, they were making good progress, and they got passed Delannoy and Rousseau who had spun their machine. It took Delannoy a couple of laps to regroup and get back to his race pace, this letting Sean Hegarty and James Neave on their “Hegarty Racing” LCR, Suzuki get close enough to make a pass.
As the race was coming to the end most of the teams had all settled down to the very wet and cold conditions. The top three teams were to keep a good safe distance from each and other till the chequered flag came out. Reeves and Cluze took the win with Reeves saying after “We are really pleased with the win, it’s a great start to the season, we have had problems over the weekend but this is good for the team. The race was really hard due to the conditions, we had a few moments but all turned out good. A big thanks Remse Racing and to all our sponsors for sticking with us” Paivarinta and Kainulainen took a well earned second place. As they arrived after the race, passenger Kainulainen was so cold that she had to have help taking her gloves off. The team were really happy with the result. Third went to Schlosser and Hofer. The team were overjoyed with the result with Schlosser saying “We were not sure if we could compete here after Thomas injured his leg, then we had big problems with the engine and cooling system over the weekend, but we are here, and on the podium, it’s great”
Fourth place went to Hegarty and Neave, they managed to pass the Birchall Brothers. Driver Hegarty said after the race, “This is great for us, it was hard with the condisions but we are really pleased” Ben and Tom Birchall were to finish in fifth place overall but they took the F2 class win. A great result for them and the team. Ben said after the race “That was some race, the conditions were very bad, and it is a problem when you come to a stop at the finish to get heat back into your body, you are so cold. But the team are really pleased with the result”
Delannoy and Rousseau were to cross the line in sixth place. With Delannoy saying “That was a crazy race, we spun two times, but thankfully we stayed on the track, we are happy with the result considering the conditions. The team did a great job”
Taking seventh was Manuel Moreau and Stephane Gadet on their “MG Racing Side” LCR. A good result for the team, and another French team in the top ten.
Eighth place went to Bennie Streuer and Geert Koerts on their “Team Streuer” LCR, Suzuki. Not the result Streuer wanted but he did not like the conditions at the start of the race saying that the visibility was zero, and he did not like this.
Ninth overall and taking second place in the F2 class was Gerald Causse and Freddy Lelubez on their “FOG RACERS” Baker, Suzuki. The team were overjoyed with the result, and the spectators were really shouting them on during the race, and when they stood on the podium for their second place.
The third place in the FIM Sidecar F2 World Trophy went to Michael Grabmuller and Sophia Kirchhofer on their “Polizeisportverein Wels Delta”LCR Yamaha. The team worked hard over the weekend, and with passenger Kirchhofer suffering with a virus, it is a good result. Grabmuller said after. “We had trouble getting grip, as did all the other teams I think. Just with Sophia being light getting grip was a problem, but we are happy with the result”.
The sidecar teams have a good long break before the next round in Croatia. That will be in the middle of June.