European Sidecar Championship:
Markus Brandhofer and Sandra Mollema are the new 2023 Champions
Pictures copyright: Ubbo Bandy
The Final of the European Sidecar Championship took place in Bad Hersfeld, a nice town in central Germany in a picturesque setting in a wooded valley, on the outskirts of the town.
Great job done by the staff of the MSC Bad Hursfeld, that worked extremely hard to ensure the event was completed, despite the bad weather that threatened to jeopardise the whole event.
A good crowd of approximately 2,500 people of all ages eventually witnessed a great evening’s racing, but the meeting itself was delayed due to a heavy downpour of rain, just as the riders came out to be presented to the crowd. Due to the surface water that was now laying on the track, the Jury agreed that the commencement of the meeting would be delayed until the track was in a suitable condition to race on. With the track maintenance team working together, fine wood chippings were spread on the track to assist in drying out the surface water that was laying on both corners.
After a delay of one hour, the track was finally in a suitable condition and the first three heats were completed without any incidents. However, due to the bad weather forecast, after a short break the next three heats followed very quickly.
It was during this third session of heats that race 8 produced the first of a number of exciting races. Dutch reserve Sven Holsten and passenger Dennis Smit came into the heat to replace the German team of Markus Venus and Markus Eibl. The Austrian team of Markus Hundsrucker and Florian Niedermeier made a fast start and lead the race, but Holsten was not done and chased Hundsrucker for three laps before finally beating his opponent in the run up to the finish flag.
With signs of more rain fading, it was agreed that the Solo support races would be brought back into the race programme, giving the European Sidecar riders a chance to catch their breath.
Once the support Solos had completed their races, the action return to the last section of qualifying heats for the Sidecars.
Race 11 had the spectators on their feet once again as one of the pre meeting favourites, English team Mitch Godden and Paul Smith, dropped the clutch and the bike stood on “up on end” 5 metres from the start. All three other teams were already into the corner as Gooden now had to get his head down, if he wasn’t going to lose vital points. One by one he picked off his opponents over the three remaining laps with only French team Remi Valladon and Dylan Fourcade between him and the finish flag. With great determination, Godden gave one last brave attempt to defeat his opponent with both teams neck and neck coming out of the last bend, with Godden getting the verdict as he just got his front wheel over the finish line before Valladon.
With the qualifying heats completed, all the riders were allocated into the C, B and A Finals.
With the first and second winning riders in B Final qualifying through into the A Final, this was always going to be a tough race.
Swiss team Imanuel Scramm and Nadin Foftier and German crew Markus Brandhofer and Sandra Mollema, fought let another hard race with both riders eventually beating their rivals for this last chance opportunity to have a crack at the European crown.
With the crowd rising to their feet, the four A finalists came out onto the track like Roman centurions entering the arena in their chariot’s. Brandhofer made another lightening start. Godden tried as he could to chase after the German for four laps, but was unable to make up the ground he needed. At the end Brandhoffer took the chequered flag and the 2023 European Sidecar Championship title. Godden was second, Dutch team Wilfred Detz and Bonita Van Dijk third and Imauel Scramm fourth.
- Markus Brandhofer – Sandra Mollema, GER
- Mitch Godden – Paul Smith, GBR
- Wilfred Detz – Bonita Van Dijk, NED