William Matthijssen will try to continue his domination of international Sidecar racing at the 2018 European Final on Saturday at Werlte, in the North of Germany. The 41-year-old Dutch star goes in search of a hat-trick of consecutive wins and a sixth title, with only German legends Thomas Kunert (11) and Josef Ondreka (10) winners of more than one title.
Matthijssen has been dominating the class since the retirement of Kunert, but he has one important omission from his racing CV – none of his previous five victories have been achieved in Germany, so he’ll need to rectify that to continue his winning streak.
Wilfred Detz joins Matthijssen in carrying the hopes of The Netherlands, after winning last Sunday’s semi-final on home turf at Roden.
That lack of win for Matthijssen in the Fatherland will give encouragement to Germany’s two big riders – Marcus Brandhofer and Markus Venus – who were second and third behind the Dutchman in 2017. Both riders racked up five silver medals in this very competitive championship.
Venus and Brandhofer are part of a four-strong German hand, with Raphael San Milan/ Benedikt Zapf and Manuel Meier/ Melanie Schrempp having progressed from the Dutch Semi-Final last weekend.
Great Britain can match Germany’s four crews, and have the only other competitors who know what it is like to lift the trophy. Josh Goodwin/ Liam Brown had that honour on home soil back in 2014, but despite a string of national titles, they haven’t come close to repeating the feat ever since. It will also be interesting to see how competitive Goodwin can be following a recent appendix operation.
Mitch Godden/ Paul Smith will be looking to build on their appearance in the Final of last year’s championship where they finished fourth, with the duo having prioritised racing on the continent this season for this big occasion.
Shaun Harvey/Danny Hogg have won more English championship crowns (8) than anyone, but the podium at this championship has remained frustratingly elusive. The last of the British quartet – Dan Berwick/ Mark Hopkins – will look to build on their podium finish at the Dutch Semi-Final, which secured their first appearance at this level.
The hopes of France rely on Christophe Grenier/ Vincent Bertoneche, the French rider having secured a bronze medal in the championship five years ago, while Denmark will be represented by Mike Frederikson – like Berwick, competing in his first European Final.
The reserves for this occasion will be Britain’s Barrie Bennett/ Eifion Hughes and French pair Eric and Bernard Betous.