Sidecar World Championship
Ben Birchall (driver)|
Tom Birchall (passenger)
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 at circuits mainly in Europe, although other venues have been included in United States (Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca), South Africa at Kyalami and Australia's Phillip Island.
In 2014, for the first time a Kawasaki-powered machine won the title with Tim Reeves and Gregory Cluze ending an 11-year consecutive Suzuki run. In 2016 Kirsi Kainulainen became the first woman motorcycle world champion, as passenger to Pekka Päivärinta.
Historic Grand Prix racing 1949—1976
The early years of the sidecar world championship were dominated by unambiguous, orthodox outfits where a sidecar was attached to a conventional solo motorcycle. Rigidity and strength were poorly understood and pre-war machines have been described as "scaffolding on wheels". Development was based around cutting weight, providing a flat platform for the passenger, and reducing drag around the sidecar wheel and at the front of the sidecar platform. When developments in dolphin and dustbin fairings on solo machines proved successful at reducing drag, it was natural to adapt similar streamlined enclosures for the sidecar outfits. A pioneer in this area was Eric Oliver who worked with the Watsonian company on the development of successive experimental racing outfits including such innovations as the use of 16 in (410 mm) diameter wheels. By 1953, this had evolved to include the complete redesign of the motorcycle frame, where the seat height had been reduced to the point where the driver now sat in a semi-prone position. This permitted the use of a one-piece fairing which enclosed the front of the outfit as well as the sidecar platform. The enclosure led to unfamiliar handling, and the advanced design was only used in practice for the Belgian Grand Prix and in the final Grand Prix at Monza, where it finished fourth in the hands of Jacques Drion and Inge Stoll. Throughout the year, other outfits experimented with more modest refinements such as additional braking via the sidecar wheel, sometimes linked to one or both of the other two brakes.
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 fuel tank could be placed either between the motorcycle and the sidecar, or on the sidecar platform. Over time 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 Kenneth 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).
Between 1981 to 2016 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. However starting in 2017 the engine capacity was reduced to 600cc, a conscious effort to lure more F2 chassis to participate on equal terms. However, the championship was still dominated by F1 chassis. The highest placing of an F2 chassis in the final classification was 12th by Eckart Rösinger and Steffen Werner on their Baker-Suzuki GSX-R600.
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.
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 35 championships between 1979 and 2016, with a variety of engines, originally Yamaha and Krauser two-strokes, more lately Suzuki four-strokes. The BMW Rennsport RS54 Engine powered to 19 straight constructors titles from 1955 to 1973, the most by any engines.
Match, Sprint, Gold
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
|1994||LCR-Swissauto V4||ADM **|
|Sidecar World Cup|
|500cc 2-stroke or 1000cc 4-stroke|
|1999||LCR-Suzuki GSX-R 1000|
|2000||LCR-Suzuki GSX-R 1000|
|2001||LCR-Suzuki GSX-R 1000|
|2003||LCR-Suzuki GSX-R 1000|
|Superside World Cup|
|2004||LCR-Suzuki GSX-R 1000|
|2005||LCR-Suzuki GSX-R 1000|
|2006||LCR-Suzuki GSX-R 1000|
|2007||LCR-Suzuki GSX-R 1000|
|2008||LCR-Suzuki GSX-R 1000|
|2009||LCR-Suzuki GSX-R 1000|
|Superside Sidecar World Championship|
(F2 World Trophy)
|2015||LCR Suzuki GSX-R1000|
(F2 World Trophy)
|2016||LCR-BMW S 1000RR|
(F2 World Trophy)
|600 cc 4-stroke|
** After the withdrawal of Michael Krauser GmBH from racing, former employee Auf Der Mauer took over and branded the engines as ADM.
*** First woman to become an FIM world champion in any discipline.
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).
- Historic world championship title for BMW sidecar Duo Pekka Päivärinta/Kirsi Kainulainen BMW Group, 19 September 2017. Retrieved 17 December 2017
- Louis, Harry (26 March 1953). "Four World's Championships". The Motor Cycle. London: Iliffe & Sons Ltd. 90 (2607): 372–374.
- "The Next Stage". The Motor Cycle. London: Iliffe & Sons Ltd. 91 (2621): 24–25. 2 July 1953.
- Quantrill, Cyril (10 September 1953). "The Italian G.P.". Motor Cycling. 88 (2276): 560–562.
- "Terrific Speeds in Belgian Grand Prix". The Motor Cycle. London: Iliffe & Sons Ltd. 91 (2622): 46–48. 9 July 1953.
- Motor Cycle News 5 May 1982, p.7 Jock Taylor in the chair. Worms all the way. "The nickname 'worm' stems from last year's Austrian GP when Biland's first 'worm' wriggled all over the track". Accessed and added 2015-03-03
- FIM Sidecar World Championship FIM Sidecar World Championship Website