FIME European Sidecar Final – Bad Hersfeld, Germany

Monday August 14, 2023 at 4:58pm
FIME European Sidecar Final – Bad Hersfeld, Germany

The race circuit at Bad Hersfeld is located in a picturesque setting in a wooded valley, on the outskirts of the town, and on Saturday evening twelve 500cc Sidecar teams from across European met to compete in this year’s European Final. However prior to the start of the event both the spectators and organisers had one eye on the weather forecast, as for a time it would become a battle with the elements.

All was looking good for a fantastic evenings racing and then just as the Mayor was being presented to the riders, the heavens opened with a torrential downpour of rain. 

Due to the surface water now laying on the track, the FIME Jury agreed that the commencement of the meeting would need to be delayed until the track was in a suitable condition for racing.

With the track maintenance team focusing on the task in hand, fine wood chippings were spread onto the track to assist in drying out the surface water that was laying on both corners.

After a delay of one hour, the track was finally in a suitable condition, and the crowd of approximately 2,500 people (who had all waited patiently),  were now going to be rewarded with a great evening’s racing.

The first three heats were completed without any incidents, but the Jury were concerned that with more rain scheduled throughout the evening, they had to keep things on the move, so the 500cc Solo support racings were postponed in order to run the next three heats of Sidecars .

With the track now drying quickly, the Jury agreed that the third session of heats should also be completed, so that should the bad weather return, there would at least be a result for the 2023 European championship.

It was during this third session of heats that race 8 produced the first of a number of exciting races. Dutch reserve Sven Holsten and passenger Dennis Smit came into the heat to replace the German team of Markus Venus and Markus Eibl. The Austrian team of Markus Hundsrucker and Florian Niedermeier made a fast start and led the race, but Holsten was not done and chased Hundsrucker hard for three laps before finally beating his opponent in the run up to the finish line and the chequered.

With signs of the rain fading, it was agreed that the Solo support races would be brought back into the race programme – if only to give the European Sidecar teams a chance to catch their breath!!

Once the support Solos had completed their races, the action return to the last section of qualifying heats for the Sidecars.

Race 11 had the spectators on their feet once again, as one of the pre meeting favourites – English team Mitch Godden and Paul Smith – dropped the clutch and the bike stood ‘up on end’ 5 metres from the start. All three other teams were already into the corner as Gooden now had to get his head down,  if he wasn’t going to lose vital points due to his misdemeanour coming out of the start.

One by one Godden picked off his opponents over the three remaining laps, with only French team Remi Valladon and Dylan Fourcade between him and the finish flag. With great determination around the last corner, Godden made one last brave attempt to defeat his opponent with both team’s neck and neck coming out of the last bend. With the two motorcycles racing side by side towards to the finish flag, Godden was awarded the win as he propelled his front wheel over the finish line just ahead of Valladon – talk about ‘zero to hero’!!!

Unfortunately it was not quite the same night for fellow Brit – Josh Goodwin and his passenger Liam Brown. Despite putting up a brave fight throughout the evening, Goodwin could only muster a second place in his first heat, and third in his second heat, followed by two last places, meaning he missed out on the ‘C’ Final.

With all the qualifying heats now completed and the rain clouds now seemingly far off in the distance, the intermediate classification was confirmed, with the qualifying riders being allocated into the ‘C’, ‘B’ and ‘A’ Finals.

With the 1st and 2nd winning riders in B Final qualifying through into the A Final, this was always going to be a tough race.

Swiss team Imanuel Scramm and Nadin Foftier and German crew Markus Brandhofer and Sandra Mollema, fought yet another hard race with both riders eventually beating their rivals for this ‘last chance’ opportunity to race for European crown.

With the crowd rising to their feet one last time, the four ‘A’ finalists came out onto the track like Roman gladiators entering the arena in their chariot’s.

Brandhofer made one last lightening start, and try as he may, Godden chased the German hard for 4 laps but was just unable to make up the ground he needed to ‘beat his man’.

With Brandhoffer taking the chequered flag, Godden crossed the line in second place, Dutch team Wilfred Detz and Bonita Van Dijk were third and Imauel Scramm and Nadin Foftier were fourth.

A large crowd stayed to watch the winner’s presentation and to congratulate the new 2023 European Champions, and it was also good to see three different nationalities taking their places on the winner’s rostrum.

Congratulations must also go to the members of MSC Bad Hersfeld, all of whom worked extremely hard to ensure the event was completed, despite the bad weather that threatened to jeopardise the 2023 European Final.

Final classification:

Winner: Markus Brandhofer and Sandra Mollema - Germany

Second: Mitch Godden and Paul Smith – Great Britain

Third:   Wilfred Detz and Bonita Van Dijk - Netherlands



Photographs courtesy of Ubbo Bandy


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