Sidecar World Championship

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FIM Sidecar World Championship
Sport Motorcycle sport
Founded 1949
Countries International
Most recent champion(s) Finland Pekka Päivärinta (driver)
Switzerland Adolf Hänni (passenger)
LCR-Suzuki GSX-R 1000 (motorcycle)

FIM Sidecar World Championship is the international sidecar racing championship. It is the only remaining original FIM road racing championship class that started in 1949. It was formerly named Superside when the sidecars moved from being part of Grand Prix Motorcycles racing to being support events for the Superbike World Championship. In 2010 the FIM took over the management of the series from the Superside promoters, and the championship was called "FIM Sidecar World Championship". However, the FIM still uses the word Superside for promotion purposes, despite the demise of the Superside promoters.

The championship is raced over a number of rounds (8 in 2013) at race circuits, mainly in Europe, although in other years they have been held in USA (Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca), South Africa (Kyalami) and Australia (Phillip Island).

The 2013 Calendar consists of races in Aragon (Spain, supporting the WSBK), Rijeka (Croatia), two rounds at Assen (Netherlands, first round supporting MotoGP), Sachsenring (Germany, supporting MotoGP), Oschersleben (Germany, supporting Endurance World Championship), Schleiz (Germany), and Le Mans (France, supporting Endurance World Championship).

The 2013 World Champions are Pekka Päivärinta and Adolf Hänni (LCR-Suzuki GSX-R 1000).

Transition Period[edit]

Prior to 1977, the racing sidecars were similar to road going sidecars. A traditional racing outfit was a road going motorcycle outfit without the boot and with the suspension lowered. The bootless sidecar frame would have a flat platform. Both the battery and the gas tank would be placed either between the motorcycle and the sidecar, or on the sidecar platform. Overtime the subframe, struts, clamps, sidecar frame, etc. would merge with the motorcycle mainframe and form a single frame. But essentially the racing outfit was still a variant of the road going outfit in principle.

In 1977 George O'Dell won the championship using a Hub-center steering sidecar called the Seymaz, however during that season the Seymaz was rarely used. The Seymaz had been built by Rolf Biland, however O'Dell used his old Windle frame for much of the year. Then in 1978 Rolf Biland won the championship using a sidecar called BEO which was a rear-engine rear-drive trike. To keep up with technological innovations, in 1979 the FIM split the championship in two: One for traditional sidecars (B2A), another for prototypes (B2B). The B2B championship was won by Bruno Holzer using an LCR that turned the act of motorcycle riding into the act of car driving, including sitting on a driver's seat and using foot pedals and a steering wheel. Neither the BEO nor the LCR required much participation from the passenger. The former only required Clifford Williams to sit on his seat, while the latter only required Charlie Maierhans to lay flat down on the passenger platform. Due to the high cost of technological development, the non-active participation of the riding passengers, and the fear that sidecars would eventually become something that has nothing to do with motorcycles, in 1980 the FIM banned all prototypes. But in 1981 the FIM reversed its decision due to protests from competitors, and allowed prototypes again. However the FIM and the competitors reached a compromise involving the rules: A sidecar must be a vehicle that is driven only by a single rear wheel and steered by a single front wheel, the driver must use a motorcycle handle bar as opposed to a steering wheel for steering, and there must be active participation from the passenger. The only ban that still exists today is the ban of using trikes or cyclecars.

The 1981 rules remain largely unchanged to this day, with the exception that during the late 90s the FIM finally allowed the use of car type suspension for the front wheel, such as the wishbone suspension. Sidecars that are outside of the technical rules can still compete in racing events, but would not be able to score or record their positions officially. An example would be the team Markus Bösiger/Jürg Egli, who achieved several high placings in the 1998 season using a sidecar in which Bösiger sat driving instead of riding. Even though they were allowed to race, their results were not classified in the official records. They would have finished third in the championship.

The traditional racing sidecars remain popular in several countries, especially the United Kingdom, mainly due to lower cost. They also have lower top speed but better maneuvering capabilities. They are now commonly called Formula Two Sidecars (600cc Engines) which are mostly used in true road racing events like the Isle of Man TT race. This is to distinguish them from the modern post 1980 Superside machines which are now called Formula One sidecars (1000cc Engines).

Today[edit]

Today the Sidecars raced in Superside are modern high tech machines related to motorcycles only by the engines that are used. The chassis are purpose built and owe more to open wheel race car technology and the tires are wide and have a flat profile. They are sometimes known as "worms". The basic design remains unchanged since 1981.

LCR Sidecar in race paddock

Under FIM regulation, the word "Rider" applies to both the driver and the passenger. The driver is positioned kneeling in front of the engine with hands near the front wheel, while the passenger moves about the platform at the rear transferring their weight from left to right according to the corner and forward or back to gain traction for the front or rear. The passenger also helps the driver when it comes to drifting, and is also usually the first person to notice any engine problems since he is next to the engine while the driver is in front of it. The two must work together to be a successful team. Nowadays it is common to call the driver the "Pilot", while the passenger has several nicknames: the "Acrobat" used in North America which is no longer in use, and the now common term "Monkey" which originated from Australia. Occasionally the words "Co-Driver" or "Co-Pilot" are also used.

Sidecars on starting grid

The most successful sidecar racer in Superside has been Steve Webster, who has won ten world championships between 1987 and 2004. The most successful chassis is LCR, the Swiss sidecar maker, whose founder Louis Christen has won 29 championships between 1979 and 2012, with a variety of engines, originally Yamaha and Krauser two-strokes, more lately Suzuki four-strokes. The BMW 50/2 Engine has powered to 19 straight constructors titles from 1955 to 1973, the most by any engines.

Match, Sprint, Gold[edit]

Since 2005 the organizers have created a new format in which there are now three types of races. A championship round can have all three type of races. But sometimes there is only one type of race (the Gold Race) in one round, usually when the round is a supporting event of a major meeting such as MotoGP.

  • Match Race. Teams are divided into groups and race in very short heat races. Winners and the better placing teams in these heats would advance to the next round (semi-finals), until only the best six teams left for the final heat race. A typical heat race distance is three laps.
  • Sprint Race. All teams participate in a short race. A typical race distance is twelve laps.
  • Gold Race. All teams participate in a long race, usually twice the distance of the sprint race.

FIM Sidecar World Champions[edit]

Grand Prix[edit]

Season Driver Passenger Bike Constructor
600cc
1949 United Kingdom Eric Oliver United Kingdom Denis Jenkinson Norton Manx Norton
1950 United Kingdom Eric Oliver Italy Lorenzo Dobelli Norton Manx Norton
500cc
1951 United Kingdom Eric Oliver Italy Lorenzo Dobelli Norton Manx Norton
1952 United Kingdom Cyril Smith United Kingdom Bob Clements
United Kingdom Les Nutt
Norton Manx Norton
1953 United Kingdom Eric Oliver United Kingdom Stanley Dibben Norton Manx Norton
1954 Germany Wilhelm Noll Germany Fritz Cron BMW RS54 Norton
1955 Germany Willi Faust Germany Karl Remmert BMW RS54 BMW
1956 Germany Wilhelm Noll Germany Fritz Cron BMW RS54 BMW
1957 Germany Fritz Hillebrand Germany Manfred Grunwal BMW RS54 BMW
1958 Germany Walter Schneider Germany Hans Strauß BMW RS54 BMW
1959 Germany Walter Schneider Germany Hans Strauß BMW RS54 BMW
1960 Germany Helmut Fath Germany Alfred Wohlgemuth BMW RS54 BMW
1961 Germany Max Deubel Germany Emil Hörner BMW RS54 BMW
1962 Germany Max Deubel Germany Emil Hörner BMW RS54 BMW
1963 Germany Max Deubel Germany Emil Hörner* BMW RS54 BMW
1964 Germany Max Deubel Germany Emil Hörner BMW RS54 BMW
1965 Switzerland Fritz Scheidegger United Kingdom John Robinson BMW RS54 BMW
1966 Switzerland Fritz Scheidegger United Kingdom John Robinson BMW RS54 BMW
1967 Germany Klaus Enders Germany Ralf Engelhardt BMW RS54 BMW
1968 Germany Helmut Fath Germany Wolfgang Kalauch URS BMW
1969 Germany Klaus Enders Germany Ralf Engelhardt BMW RS54 BMW
1970 Germany Klaus Enders Germany Ralf Engelhardt
Germany Wolfgang Kalauch
BMW RS54 BMW
1971 Germany Horst Owesle Germany Julius Kremer
United Kingdom Peter Rutherford
Münch-URS BMW
1972 Germany Klaus Enders Germany Ralf Engelhardt BMW RS54 BMW
1973 Germany Klaus Enders Germany Ralf Engelhardt BMW RS54 BMW
1974 Germany Klaus Enders Germany Ralf Engelhardt Busch-BMW RS54 König
1975 Germany Rolf Steinhausen Germany Josef Huber Busch-König König
1976 Germany Rolf Steinhausen Germany Josef Huber Busch-König König
1977 United Kingdom George O'Dell United Kingdom Kenny Arthur
United Kingdom Cliff Holland
Windle-Yamaha TZ500
Seymaz-Yamaha TZ500
Yamaha
1978 Switzerland Rolf Biland United Kingdom Kenneth Williams TTM-Yamaha TZ500
BEO-Yamaha TZ500
Yamaha
1979
(B2A)
Switzerland Rolf Biland Switzerland Kurt Waltisperg Schmid-Yamaha TZ500 Yamaha
1979
(B2B)
Switzerland Bruno Holzer Switzerland Charlie Maierhans LCR-Yamaha TZ500 Yamaha
1980 United Kingdom Jock Taylor Sweden Benga Johansson Windle-Yamaha TZ500 Yamaha
1981 Switzerland Rolf Biland Switzerland Kurt Waltisperg LCR-Yamaha TZ500 Yamaha
1982 Germany Werner Schwärzel Germany Andreas Huber Seymaz-Yamaha TZ500 Yamaha
1983 Switzerland Rolf Biland Switzerland Kurt Waltisperg LCR-Yamaha TZ500 Yamaha
1984 Netherlands Egbert Streuer Netherlands Bernard Schnieders LCR-Yamaha TZ500 Yamaha
1985 Netherlands Egbert Streuer Netherlands Bernard Schnieders LCR-Yamaha TZ500 Yamaha
1986 Netherlands Egbert Streuer Netherlands Bernard Schnieders LCR-Yamaha TZ500 Yamaha
1987 United Kingdom Steve Webster United Kingdom Tony Hewitt LCR-Krauser Krauser
1988 United Kingdom Steve Webster United Kingdom Tony Hewitt
United Kingdom Gavin Simmons
LCR-Krauser Krauser
1989 United Kingdom Steve Webster United Kingdom Tony Hewitt LCR-Krauser Krauser
1990 France Alain Michel United Kingdom Simon Birchall LCR-Krauser Krauser
1991 United Kingdom Steve Webster United Kingdom Gavin Simmons LCR-Krauser Krauser
1992 Switzerland Rolf Biland Switzerland Kurt Waltisperg LCR-Krauser Krauser
1993 Switzerland Rolf Biland Switzerland Kurt Waltisperg LCR-Krauser Krauser
1994 Switzerland Rolf Biland Switzerland Kurt Waltisperg LCR-Swissauto V4 ADM
1995 United Kingdom Darren Dixon United Kingdom Andy Hetherington Windle-ADM ADM
1996 United Kingdom Darren Dixon United Kingdom Andy Hetherington Windle-ADM ADM

Sidecar World Cup[edit]

Season Driver Passenger Bike
1997 United Kingdom Steve Webster United Kingdom David James LCR-ADM
500cc 2-stroke or 1000cc 4-stroke
1998 United Kingdom Steve Webster United Kingdom David James LCR-Honda
1999 United Kingdom Steve Webster United Kingdom David James LCR-Suzuki GSX-R 1000
2000 United Kingdom Steve Webster United Kingdom Paul Woodhead LCR-Suzuki GSX-R 1000

Superside[edit]

Season Driver Passenger Bike
1000cc 4-stroke
2001 Austria Klaus Klaffenböck Austria Christian Parzer LCR-Suzuki GSX-R 1000
2002 United Kingdom Steve Abbott United Kingdom Jamie Biggs Windle-Yamaha EXUP
2003 United Kingdom Steve Webster United Kingdom Paul Woodhead LCR-Suzuki GSX-R 1000

Superside World Cup[edit]

Season Driver Passenger Bike
2004 United Kingdom Steve Webster United Kingdom Paul Woodhead LCR-Suzuki GSX-R 1000

Superside[edit]

Season Driver Passenger Bike
2005 United Kingdom Tim Reeves United Kingdom Tristan Reeves LCR-Suzuki GSX-R 1000
2006 United Kingdom Tim Reeves United Kingdom Tristan Reeves LCR-Suzuki GSX-R 1000
2007 United Kingdom Tim Reeves United Kingdom Patrick Farrance** LCR-Suzuki GSX-R 1000
2008 Finland Pekka Päivärinta Finland Timo Karttiala LCR-Suzuki GSX-R 1000
2009 United Kingdom Ben Birchall United Kingdom Tom Birchall LCR-Suzuki GSX-R 1000

Superside Sidecar World Championship[edit]

Season Driver Passenger Bike
2010 Finland Pekka Päivärinta Switzerland Adolf Hänni LCR-Suzuki GSX-R1000
2011 Finland Pekka Päivärinta Switzerland Adolf Hänni LCR-Suzuki GSX-R1000
2012 United Kingdom Tim Reeves United Kingdom Ashley Hawes LCR-Suzuki GSX-R1000
2013 Finland Pekka Päivärinta Switzerland Adolf Hänni LCR-Suzuki GSX-R1000

Notes[edit]

* United Kingdom Barry Dungsworth was a substitute for the injured Emil Hörner in the Isle of Man round. The team finished eighth and received no points.
** United Kingdom Stuart Graham was injured during the practice session of the first round in Schleiz. Patrick Farrance substituted for the race and for the rest of the season.

Trivia[edit]

Werner Schwärzel and Karl Heinz Kleis was the first team to win a race (1974 German GP) using a 2-stroke engine (König), Steve Abbott and Jamie Biggs was the last team to win a race (1999 World Superbike Championship round 8 Brands Hatch) using a 2-stroke engine (Honda).

Jock Taylor and Benga Johansson was the last team to use a traditional sidecar to win the championship (1980) and a race (1981 Austrian GP).

External links[edit]