Tim Reeves and Ashley Hawes retained the top spot in the 2012 World Sidecar Championship at the weekend when they took two hard fought podium positions at Oschersleben, Germany. The duo took second and third in the two races to open up a one-point advantage over new second placed team Jorg Steinhausen/Gregory Cluze.
With perfect weather conditions at the German venue over the three days of action, Tim and Ashley put in a steady performance during qualifying and lined up in fifth on the grid. With just half a second covering the top five crews, two more close races were in store. A great start to Saturday’s 15-lap race saw Tim and Ashley lead in the early stages of the race only to be overhauled by polesetters Steinhausen/Cluze. Tim then came under pressure from Pekka Paivarinta/Adolf Hanni and with just a handful of laps to go, he ran wide at the chicane, handing the place to the Finnish driver. Despite his best efforts, he was unable to regain the runner-up spot and so had to settle for third. The result meant that reigning World Champion Paivarinta went to the top of the Championship table, with Steinhausen in second and Tim and Ashley dropping back to third.
Sunday’s longer 22-lap race saw Tim make a steadier start to the race and he lay in fourth place in the early stages. Paivarinta was penalised for overtaking under a yellow flag and so dropped back to sixth after serving a drive-through penalty whilst Tim’s tactic of saving his tyres came into play in the second half of the race. Slowly but surely he began to reel in race leaders Ben and Tom Birchall and Steinhausen/Cluze only to run into backmarkers and start the process all over again. He managed to get the German driver but ran out of time to catch the Birchalls and so took second place at the chequered flag, four seconds adrift of his fellow countrymen. However, the result meant that Tim and Ashley went back into the lead of the Championship with 156 points and with just one race now remaining, they have a slender one point lead over Steinhausen/Cluze. The Birchalls are just three points further back in third whilst Paivarinta is in fourth on 151 points so with just 5 points separating the leading quartet it promises to be a frantic final round!
Speaking later, a pleased Tim said; “Oschersleben’s never been one of my happiest hunting grounds so to come away with two podiums and the Championship lead is brilliant. I was happy enough with my grid position as I didn’t want to keep wasting money on tyres and with a flyer of a start, the first race was going really well. I got passed fair and square by Jorg and I didn’t have an answer to him as he was driving really well so it was all about trying to hold Pekka off. I made a small mistake at the chicane though and it was enough to let him through but I was happy enough with third.”
“I knew I’d have to pull my finger out though for the main race and I concentrated on maintaining the gap to the leaders whilst conserving the tyres. In the second half of the race, I had a bit more grip than the others and was able to start moving forward although all the work was undone when I got a bad run through the backmarkers. I got back up to second and although it was too late to catch Ben and Tom, I was pleased with the result and to be back on top of the title table is just what I wanted. The bike was stripped at the end of the race and the scrutineers confirmed it was all 100% legal so it was nice to silence a few of the doubters too.”
“I’ve got my worst circuit out of the way and it’s all very much to play for now. I enjoy Le Mans and although there are a few permutations about who can finish where, it’s basically a case of winners takes all! I’m feeling confident and am firmly aiming at reclaiming the number one plate so a big thanks to all the team especially Dave Hudspeth Carpets, Gunter Reuschling, the Haith family, H&S Contractors and Q8 oils.”