Stevens and Charlwood back on track
Ricky Stevens begins his bid to regain the British Sidecar Championship at Brands Hatch this weekend.
The Portsmouth driver will once again be partnered by passenger Ryan Charlwood, from Dover.
The pair clinched the title in 2015 and 2016 but a mixture of mechanical problems and injury cost them a hat-trick last season.
Now racing a 600cc machine – in line with rule changes at World Championship level – they are back and raring to go.
Stevens said: ‘We are very excited by the new season.
‘Ryan is fit again and the new engine seems to be the right package. We can’t wait to get started.’
The championship consists of 10 rounds, with the majority held alongside the British Superbike Championship.
Stevens and Charlwood will once again represent the Quattro Plant JG Speedfit Kawasaki sidecar team.
The pair finished third last season but have regrouped during the winter.
They will be competing on a Kawasaki-powered 600cc sidecar in the 600 British Cup Championship.
The changes in the rules at World Championship level and from next year in the British Championship mean all machines will have to be powered by a 600cc engines.
This year in the British Championship it will be the last time that 1000cc and 600cc machines compete in the same races.
As the team is now running a 600cc machine they are also looking at competing in a couple of World Championship rounds.
In 2015 they did exactly that and won the opening round at Donington Park.
To attract a bigger field of 600cc-powered machines, race organizers RKB have decided the 600cc competitors can also score points in the main championship.
So, in theory, a 600cc machine could become both the British Champion and the 600 Cup champion.
At the beginning of March, the team had a successful test at the Val de Vienne circuit in France.
Over the four days they completed around 60 laps of the circuit and felt they learned a huge amount on the new machine, which has different characteristics with the cornering and power output compared to their 1000cc alternative.
The testing didn’t go without incident, though. A solo machine collided with them in the pit lane causing damage to the fairing, one of the wheels and the radiator system.
This took time to repair which meant Stevens and Charlwood lost valuable track time, not to mention their machine suffering around £6,000 of damage.
The duo acknowledge 2017 was a very trying year for them and the whole team, with mechanical problems and injury. But they are thrilled to be back on track.
Charlwood added: ‘I’m looking forward to the season and hopefully we can start getting back on the podium and winning races.’