First win of season for Lauder sidecar racer Steve Kershaw and passenger Ryan Charlwood

Lauder’s Steve Kershaw and Ryan Charlwood secured their first win of the current Santander Salt International Motorcycling Federation World Sidecar Championship in Croatia at the weekend.

Lauder sidecar racer Steve Kershaw, right, and passenger Ryan Charlwood celebrating their first win of the season in Croatia on Sunday (Photo: Mark Walters)
Lauder sidecar racer Steve Kershaw, right, and passenger Ryan Charlwood celebrating their first win of the season in Croatia on Sunday (Photo: Mark Walters)

A week on from the preceding round in Hungary, Kershaw and Charlwood notched up a season’s-best second placing in race one of round five at the Automotodrom Grobnik then proceeded to go one better in race two by taking pole position.

The series’ front-runners, England’s Todd Ellis and his French passenger Emmanuelle Clement and Switzerland’s Markus Schlosser and Marcel Fries, had taken the top two places at seven of the eight races up to that point, but both let their grip on the top end of the rankings slip in Croatia.

Kershaw and Charlwood, their confidence boosted by their pacier showing the week before following a change of suspension supplier, were hopeful of building up some momentum and got off to a solid start by taking second place in qualifying just behind Ellis/Clement, though there was less than a second separating the five top teams.

Kershaw/Charlwood were able to keep up with Ellis/Clement up front in race one on Saturday, with Schlosser/Fries behind them.

A collision saw Dutch-German pairing Bennie Streuer and Kevin Kolsch end up upside down in the gravel on lap 14, leading to the race being halted four laps early and ruling them out of racing on Sunday.

Ellis/Clement were declared winners, with Kershaw/Charlwood runners-up and Schlosser/Fries in third place.

Heartened by that result, Kershaw and Charlwood went into race two the day after hopeful of another podium placing, a prospect boosted by Schlosser/Fries dropping back from second place to eighth due to a clutch problem, allowing the Borders team to move up to second spot behind leaders Ellis/Clement.

Another Ellis/Clement win looked to be on the cards at that stage, but they were then forced to pulled into the pit lane to have a steering issue looked at, handing a golden opportunity gratefully seized upon by the Lauder pair to claim their first win of the season.

The Isle of Man’s Harry Payne and Mark Wilkes finished second, their first podium placing of the year, with Schlosser/Fries third with a lap to go after bouncing back from their clutch problems to make up ground.

Next up is Kershaw Racing’s home round at Leicestershire’s Donington Park alongside round five of the Superbike World Championship in mid-July.

Speaking after Sunday’s podium ceremony, Kershaw said: “Yesterday was good but the Quattro LCR today was perfect.

“The team had the handling spot on and Ryan was flawless.

“When we saw Todd and Emmanuelle pull out, we knew we just had to keep our rhythm and we increased our lead every lap. This is what we do it for.”