Duo show their class during Le Mans circuit debut

The Portsmouth sidecar team competed well at Le Mans. Picture: Mark Walters
The Portsmouth sidecar team competed well at Le Mans. Picture: Mark Walters
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A GOOD weekend at the iconic Le Mans circuit provided the perfect boost for Ricky Stevens and Ryan Charlwood as they impressed in the first round of the World Championship.

In their first race at the French venue they managed an excellent fifth-place finish.

It made the 500-mile trip well worth it for Portsmouth’s Quattro Plant JG Speedfit Kawasaki sidecar team.

Stevens said ‘We had a very successful weekend on a track that we didn’t know.

‘I’m very happy with our fitness over this amount of laps and how well the sidecar performed.’

Held on the 2.7 mile Bugatti circuit the team were taking advantage of their new engine size of 600cc which enabled them to compete in the first round where all machines have to be 600cc powered.

After a mixed weekend at last weekend’s British Championship, Portsmouth driver Ricky Stevens and Dover based passenger Ryan Charlwood wanted to use Le Mans for further valuable track time.

It was also a great chance to compete at the highest level.

The duo had a very busy few days learning the track for the 18-lap Saturday lunch-time race.

Thursday evening’s free practice session saw them in a very solid sixth place.

On Friday they had two combined practice sessions and qualified fourth on the grid for the race.

This was a fantastic achievement considering this was only the second time they had competed on the new machine.

Defending world champions, the Birchall brothers, were on pole position and multiple world champion Tim Reeves was in second with the 2015 Dutch world champion Bennie Streuer in third.

The Portsmouth team had obviously learned a vast amount over the previous few days and were battling for second place.

But on lap 12 while pushing Streuer they had to run straight on due to Streuer’s machine having a tyre issue which caused it to overturn right in front of them.

Fortunately they only lost some time, while Streuer and his passenger were unhurt.

With no more incidents they took the chequered flag in fifth place.

The pair return to action next month at the second round of the British Championship at Oulton Park in Cheshire.

By John Mushet