Anyone who thinks that a sidecar used in racing is like a relative had in the 1950s or 1960s with a British motorcycle attached to a sidecar for a passenger to sit in should think again. Todayâ€™s sidecars are a complexed high powered and very expensive affair which comes in two classes.
The Formula 2 class, which run 600 cc engines at the front of the chassis and the much longer and powerful 1000cc Formula 1 class. The engine for this is at the rear of the chassis. Suzuki, Kawasaki, Honda and Yamaha engines are the preferred choice of most teams, with a lot of F1 teams also using a 1000cc BMW powered machine.
So how does it work? Well each machine is chain driven to one of the rear wheel and steered by the driver. The drivers lay on their fronts and operate the brakes and gear levels with their feet. The passenger, which is not a inspiring name for probably the most important part of the operation has to kneel on the platform at the rear of the sidecar moving around on corners trying to keep the power down on the rear driving wheel and also keeping out of the way on straight lines to make the sidecar as aerodynamic as possible. The passenger has a few hand grips and handles to hold onto and contrary to popular belief they are not strapped in.
The F2 outfits are used in road racing such as the Isle of Man TT whereas the F1 machines are used mainly on the track circuits. The F1 machines can reach speeds of up to 160 mph. Chassis for both classes are made by specialist manufactures. Some from steel tubing and others as in the case of the LCR designs in Switzerland, they are made from tubs which are lighter and can be replaced separately if they are damaged.
Tyres are much wider than motorcycle tyres which give the grip which is needed to keep the sidecar stable. The fairing usually made from fibre glass covers the engine, electrical and other working parts and a wheel arch goes over the driving wheel. After that the team colours or sponsors colours are used on the fairing. The British F1 Championship is run alongside the British superbike Championship in front of large crowds and televised live. The F2 British Championship is run alongside motorcycle club racing and is just as exciting.
The best way to fully understand this exciting sport is to go along to a meeting. Ask any of the teams to have a look at their machines and they are always more than happy to answer questions and show you round their pride and joys!
Quattro Plant Kawasaki concluded their British Championship season at Brands Hatch at the weekend and it proved to be a successful two days of action as Ricky Stevens/Ryan Charlwood clinched the Hyundai Heavy Industries British Sidecar Championship for the second successive season.
Driving the Quattro Plant Cool Kawasaki, the duo qualified in second place for Saturdayâ€™s opening race behind Championship rivals Tim Reeves/Gregory Cluze and although they briefly slipped back to fourth they were soon up to third and the three podium positions were extremely hard fought. Reeves and Cluze grabbed the win from Ben Holland/Lee Watson by 0.051s with Ricky and Ryan just two tenths of a second further back in third.
It meant they went into Sundayâ€™s final race of the season with a 29-point advantage over Reeves/Cluze although wet weather meant the eight lap race was a nervy affair for all concerned. Reeves and Cluze again took the win but third place overall for Ricky and Ryan was enough for them to win the Championship by eleven points and they ended the season with an impressive four wins and 17 podiums from the twenty races.