Isle of Man TT sidecar racer Tim Reeves leads the 2012 World Sidecar Championship heading into the final round.
Reeves said it will be ‘winner takes all’ when the outfits gather for the final round at Le Mans next month.
Already a three-times World Champion, Reeves is yet to stand on the top step of the podium at the TT. He has achieved three top-three finishes, including a career-best second place at the 2012 Isle of Man TT fuelled by Monster Energy, when he was joined in the outfit by multiple TT winner Dan Sayle.
However, he could make up for the disappointment of missing out on TT victory in 2012 by securing his 4th World Championship after maintaining his title lead at the latest round.
Reeves, partnered by Ashley Hawes, took two hard fought podium positions at Oschersleben, Germany, finishing 2nd and 3rd in the two races to open up a one-point advantage over the new 2nd placed team Jorg Steinhausen andGregory Cluze.
With perfect weather conditions at the venue over the three days of action, Reeves and Hawes put in a steady performance during qualifying and to line up 5th.
With just half a second covering the top 5 crews, close racing was in store.
A great start to Saturday’s 15-lap race saw Reeves and Hawes lead in the early stages of the race only to be overhauled by pole sitters Steinhausen and Cluze. Reeves then came under pressure from Pekka Paivarinta, partnered by 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, Reeves was unable to regain the runner-up spot and had to settle for 3rd. The result meant that reigning World Champion Paivarinta went to the top of the championship table, with Steinhausen in 2nd and Reeves dropping back to 3rd.
Sunday’s 22-lap race saw Reeves make a steadier start and he lay 4th in the early stages. Paivarinta was penalised for overtaking under a yellow flag, dropping back to 6th after serving a drive-through, while Reeves, who had been saving his tyres, came into play in the second half of the race.
He began to reel in race leaders only to run into backmarkers and have to start the process all over again. He managed to get past German driver Steinhausen, but ran out of time to catch leaders Ben and Tom Birchall, settling for 2nd, 4 seconds adrift.
The result meant Reeves and Hawes went back into the lead of the championship with 156 points, and with just one race remaining they have a one point lead.
The Birchalls are 3rd, while Paivarinta is 4th on 151 points.
With just 5 points separating the leading quartet it promises to be a frantic final round.
“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 3rd.”
“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 2nd 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.”