The annual European Team Race for Sidecarcross was held in Schwedt, Germany last weekend. Thirteen nations were represented including Australia from the southern hemisphere. Team GB comprised Stuart Brown / Josh Chamberlain, Brett Wilkinson / Steve Kirwin and Nick Jarvis / Dan Chamberlain.
The track had been well prepared for the event but previous experience suggested that it would become extremely rough and demanding by Sunday evening. Unlike the last time we were here in 2013 the weather was kind with bright sunshine on both days although the Easterly wind kept the temperature down to single figures.
In Saturday’s qualifying races Team GB were third behind the two clear favourites, Holland and Belgium giving the team a good choice for start line position in Sunday’s races.
When the gate dropped for the first leg Brown had taken his position on the front row while Wilkinson was on the second row. As the pack stormed up the hill Brown was caught up in a group of riders all trying to be in the same place at once and as a results he was stopped at turn one and got away virtually last. The holeshot was taken by the French team, Hydulphe / Chopin from van Daele / Dhont. Wilkinson from the second row got a clean start and was in the top ten after turn one. The top French team, Giraud / Mucenieks, stopped after a couple of corners with a very sick sounding motor. Fortunately the gremlins cleared but he was virtually a lap adrift of the leaders.
While Brown was working his way up from the back Wilkinson was heading for the front and by lap three was up fourth place. V.Daele was still leading from Hydulphe with Riim / Peever third. After ten minutes v.Daele’s team mate, Hendrickx / v.den Bogaart, was up to second with Bax / Stupelis third. Just after half distance Hendrickx led from v.Daele with Wilkinson third. Bax had dropped back with clutch problems. Brown was now up to ninth place and Giraud twentieth. With two laps to go Bax passed Wilkinson and his team mate Willemsen / Beunk closed from behind. These five stayed in that order to the flag. Brown was eighth and Giraud tenth.
Before the second leg started the drama started to unfold as v.Daele was unable to start his motor before the going out for the sighting lap. He then went on to use Hendrickx’s bike for the race. This was noticed by Willemsen who told an official but no action was taken.
When the gate dropped Hydulphe got to turn one first with Wilkinson just behind. A few corners later Wilkinson had taken the lead from the Frenchman with Willemsen third. Jarvis got a good clean start and was in the top ten. Wilkinson held the lead for two laps before being overtaken by Willemsen. At this stage both Holland and Belgium had both teams in the top seven and Team GB had both in the top nine whereas our nearest rivals, Team Czech Rep, only had one bike in the top ten.
On lap four Vanluchene overtook Wilkinson but on the same lap v.Daele stalled his motor and restarted in fourteenth place. For the rest of the race Willemsen held the lead from Vanluchene with Wilkinson an excellent third and the second Dutch team, Hermans / v.Gaalen fourth. V.Daele could only manage to finish tenth while the Czechs had fifth and sixth. Jarvis rode a steady race to finish in a very creditable eighth. Things were still looking good for a podium finish for Team GB.
When the race results were published v.Daele had been disqualified for using a borrowed bike. He was given a score of 34 points which we now learn was an error and he should have been given no score meaning Team Belgium could not drop another score.
In the final race of the day Hendrickx took the holeshot from Giraud with Riim in third place. Both our crews, Brown / Chamberlain and Jarvis / Chamberlain got clean starts but Jarvis lasted less than one lap when Chamberlain was thrown off the bike. He was unable to continue so it was essential that Brown got a good score. Hendrickx continued at the front with Giraud second and for the first four laps Hermans was third with Brown now fourth. At this stage Vanluchene dropped out so his score was going to be near to the maximum. Coming up fast was Bax who was up to fifth on lap three and up to third two laps later. By half distance he had passed Giraud and started to close on the Belgian. With two laps to go he got alongside Hendrickx but couldn’t make the pass stick but soon after he managed it. Bax took the win from Hendrickx with Giraud third and Brown an excellent fourth. The Czech riders came home seventh and ninth.
Once all the scores had been added up the winners were Holland with Team GB a brilliant second with the current holders, Belgium, third.
Next year it is believed the event will be at Toulon in France where it should be warmer and the track less demanding.