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Lielbardis wins out in Poland as Wilkinson battles hard for fifth! 2024 FIM World Sidecarcross Championship Round 5 – Race Report & Results

Lielbardis wins out in Poland as Wilkinson battles hard for fifth! 2024 FIM World Sidecarcross Championship Round 5 – Race Report & Results

Overnight rain continued into Sunday’s racing action at Round 5 of the 2024 FIM World Sidecarcross Championship in Gdansk, Poland would see the track become even more difficult to make overtaking opportunities harder to come by, however, the main title contenders were in prime position on the gate to launch themselves into the first turn, which would set the template for the 30 minutes + 2 lap event.

Report by Barry Nutley – Images by WSC

Race 1

The Lielbardis’ twins had the first gate choice, and opted to go for the far-inside gate, with Hermans / van den Bogaart and Vanluchene / Janssens to their left-hand side. This proved to be an inspired choice as the Latvian championship leaders took the holeshot, for the first time of the season, ahead of Hermans and the reigning champion, Vanluchene. A supreme start from van Werven / van de Wiel saw them slot into fourth position throughout the opening lap, but with clear track in front of the, Daniels and Bruno put the hammer down and set a quick pace to increase his advantage.

Bad luck would strike once more for Hermans as he got caught on the inside of a left turn, and this slight hiccup would see them drop down the order, with plenty of work to do. This would promote van Werven into an early podium position and initial speculation would point to this positioning being perfect for the Dutch crew, as the weather conditions made overtaking opportunities slim. While this was playing out, the Leferink brothers were forced to retire from the opening race, the reason unknown.

Vanluchene found pace as the clock counted down to the mid-point of the race, but all eyes were locked onto the Lielbardis twins and how they would react to the challenge. The Polish round of the 2024 championship being, somewhat, a “home race” for them, as this location was the nearest to their hometown in Latvia. Throughout this period, Hermans seemed to be slightly lacking in pace when compared to his opposition, and this would point toward this race being damage limitation for the #3 crew. A crew that we have not mentioned is the one of #91 Weiss / Schneider as they found their way through on van Werven / van de Wiel, to move up into the third position – a fantastic showing from the Austrian crew, in these difficult conditions.

Toward the closing stages of the event, and the Autrian crew holding onto the final rostrum position for this opening race were now coming under ever-increasing pressure from the Prunier brothers who, let’s not forget, took overall GP victory a couple of rounds ago in Plomion. Despite their attempts of applying pressure to the race leaders, Vanluchene would soon lose time on the metronomic Lielbardis twins and, as Barry Nutley very correctly mentioned in commentary, this was a textbook display from the 17 year old sibling pairing in their hopes of retaining the red plate.

Hermans clambered as high up the order as they could, however, they would be forced to accept a fifth place finish in the opening event, which I’m sure they would not be delighted with, however, a welcome result considering the events at the start of the race. This in turn, would relegate the Dutch duo of Van Werven / van de Wiel to seventh place as van Daele / van der Putten would promote themselves into sixth. Once more, the chequered flag heralded the arrival of the championship leaders who took yet another race victory in the 2024 campaign.

Race 1 Result

Race 2

Once again, the Lielbardis twins would start the second race of the weekend from the inside of the gate, with hopes of repeating their earlier holeshot which they achieved, with a decisive and aggressive challenge up the inside of the pack. Drama would unfold at the very first corner as no less than six crews were caught together, all vying for the same piece of track, including the Leferink brothers, Weiss / Schneider, Wijers / van Hal and Vanluchene / Janssens! A distraught Prummer / Lebreton, after being caught in the melee, would retire from the race on the opening lap.

The Latvian brothers led the charge ahead of the #723 of Van Daele / van der Putten, who were in hot pursuit and looking to capitalise on their great position by clawing back the deficit that had opened in the opening handful of laps. Vanluchene was a man on a charge, as himself and Glenn Janssens sought about making amends after the first corner drama. The majority of the circuit being very much one-line, but this was no match for the determined reigning champion as, throughout the race, he picked off his opposition one-by-one in their efforts to climb up the order throughout the remaining 25 minutes.

Again, consistency proved to be the key to this circuit as Daniels and Bruno stretched their leading margin over Van Daele, who was now keeping Hermans / van den Bogaart at bay with the first of the left-hand sidecars hot on their heels in fourth position. We mentioned in our qualifying report that this track seemed to lend itself to the left-hand sidecars, and this would be something that Wilkinson / Millard would seek to use to their advantage, with podium hopes on their mind. A brilliant ride from Gordejev / Niitsoo would see them inside the top five placing during the middle of the race, and this is the highest we have seen Gert Gordejev in his career! Regardless of the outcome, Gert Gordejev and Sten Niitsoo must certainly go home to Estonia with their heads held high, and smiles on their faces.

A fabulous defence from the Estonian pairing would unfortunately buckle as the Plomion GP winners, Prunier / Prunier, as well as Vanluchene who continued to charge through the field, would soon overcome them and they would drop down to eighth position. In the meantime, the Lielbardis’ continued to grip the reigns on the race as their advantage would reach, and surpass, the ten seconds mark which would surely see them, despite the weather conditions, home and dry.

Not for the first time today, the red-plate holders would be greeted by the chequered flag to claim a maximum of 50 points and, with this, claim their third overall GP victory of the season, and of their career, to further extend their lead in the title race – the twins receiving the plaudits from the highly supportive crowd. Completing the podium were Hermans / van den Bogaart and Wilkinson / Millard.

Race 2 Result

Overall Result

Championship Standings