Sidecar racing: Lauder's Steve Kershaw and Ryan Charlwood in world championship action in Holand

Lauder pair Steve Kershaw and Ryan Charlwood were third in the Gold final on the hallowed tarmac of the Dutch “Cathedral of Speed”, TT circuit Assen, at last weekend’s round five of the Sidecar World Championship.
were third in Gold final in Holland (Pic by Mark Walters)were third in Gold final in Holland (Pic by Mark Walters)
were third in Gold final in Holland (Pic by Mark Walters)

Now into the second half of the season, the meeting had all the drama of a spaghetti western gunfight as the top stars fought for every point.

Qualifying was incredibly tight with Payne/Rousseau taking pole and Kershaw/Charlwood seventh but less than a second behind.

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Saturday’s nine-lap sprint race resembled a high speed eight-bike wagon train and it was testament to the pace that it took until the middle of lap three before anyone was able to make a pass.

Borderers Steve Kershaw and Ryan Charlwood were third in Holland​ (Pic by Mark Walters)Borderers Steve Kershaw and Ryan Charlwood were third in Holland​ (Pic by Mark Walters)
Borderers Steve Kershaw and Ryan Charlwood were third in Holland​ (Pic by Mark Walters)

Reeves/Wilkes picked off Payne/Rousseau for the lead, with the next move being Kershaw/Charlwood taking local Dutch hero Streuer/Kolsch, who gradually dropped back.

Payne/Rousseau then got literally mown down by Ellis/Clement – at the same corner they lost the lead - pushing them back to fifth just ahead of the Scotsmen.

Ellis, all guns blazing, then powered past Reeves on the penultimate lap to take a vital win with a gallant third from the wounded Ben Birchall and young Callum Crowe deputizing for the injured Tom.

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The Christie brothers, Payne/Rousseau and Kershaw/Charlwood completed the top six, all covered by just over two seconds.

With Ellis/Clement now the new series leaders, there was added tension to the 16-lap Gold race on Sunday.

The Lauder chargers made life much easier for themselves by outgunning Streuer/Kolsch into turn one for sixth place and the unlucky Payne/Rousseau crew had a target on their back again on lap two as this time Reeves/Wilkes punted them at turn two for the lead, also letting Ellis/Clement through.

On lap five, Reeves/Wilkes’ bike slowly tumbled down the order to eventually finish eighth, allowing Ellis to gallop ahead to a double victory.

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It was now Kershaw/Charlwood with Birchall/Crowe in tow who looked best of the rest as they picked off their closest rivals the Chirsties, followed by Payne/Rousseau by lap 12 to claim second place.

Birchall and Crowe, dogged to the last, weren’t giving up and wrestled a second off the Scotsmen on lap 14 and held it to the line by 0.2 of a second.

Behind, Payne/Rousseau rolled in ahead of the Christies to complete the top five.

As the points were tallied up, Ellis/Clement were the new sheriffs in town, holding a nine-point series lead from Birchall/Crowe.

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Behind, Kershaw/Charlwood have jumped to third, 64 points behind second but crucially one point ahead of Payne/Rousseau and the Christies who are still tied.

“We had a small issue in qualifying that we managed to fix for race 1, but it was so difficult to pass in the shorter race as everyone just goes flat out,” Kershaw said.

“The longer format seems to suit us better and we could find the gaps. Another second would have been better, but two podiums in two weekends is great given the level of competition.”

Round six will be staged in Oschersleben, Germany, on the first weekend in October.