Sidecar World Championship

FIM Sidecar World Championship is the international sidecar racing championship. It is the only remaining original FIM road racing championship class that started in 1949.

FIM Sidecar World Championship
SportMotorcycle sport
Most recent
Tim Reeves (driver)
Mark Wilkes (passenger)
Adolf RS-Yamaha YZF-R6

It was formerly named Superside when the sidecars moved from being part of Grand Prix Motorcycles racing to being support events for the Superbike World Championship. In 2010 the FIM took over the management of the series from the Superside promoters, and the championship was called "FIM Sidecar World Championship". However, the FIM still uses the word Superside for promotion purposes, despite the demise of the Superside promoters.

The championship is raced over a number of rounds at circuits mainly in Europe, although other venues have been included in United States (Monterey), South Africa at Kyalami and Australia's Phillip Island.


Formative yearsEdit

Chis Vincent on the Norton-BSA outfit he used for 1958 in grasstrack and 1959 for road racing, just by changing the tyre tread, a low sitter achieved by 16 inch wheels instead of 19 and showing an early version of the passenger platform which endured until the late 1970s

When the sidecar world championships began in 1949, they were dominated by unambiguous, orthodox outfits where a sidecar was attached to a conventional solo motorcycle. Rigidity and strength were poorly understood and pre-war machines have been described as "scaffolding on wheels". Development was based around cutting weight, providing a flat platform for the passenger, and reducing drag around the sidecar wheel and at the front of the sidecar platform.[1] When developments in dolphin and dustbin fairings on solo machines proved successful at reducing drag, it was natural to adapt similar streamlined enclosures for the sidecar outfits. A pioneer in this area was Eric Oliver who worked with the Watsonian company on the development of successive experimental racing outfits including such innovations as the use of 16 in (410 mm) diameter wheels.[1]

Design changesEdit

By 1953, motorcycle frames had undergone a complete redesign to accommodate the side car. Seat heights had been reduced to the point where the driver now sat in a semi-prone position. This permitted the use of a one-piece fairing which enclosed the front of the outfit as well as the sidecar platform.[2] The enclosure led to unfamiliar handling, and the advanced design was only used in practice for the Belgian Grand Prix and in the final Grand Prix at Monza, where it finished fourth in the hands of Jacques Drion and Inge Stoll.[3] Throughout the year, other outfits experimented with more modest refinements such as additional braking via the sidecar wheel, sometimes linked to one or both of the other two brakes.[4]

BMW RS54 Rennsport 500 cc engine as installed in a modern replica of Max Deubel's 1960s low sitter

Nevertheless, racing sidecars remained intrinsically the same to road-going sidecars. A traditional racing outfit was a road-going motorcycle outfit without the boot and with the suspension lowered. The bootless sidecar frame would have a flat platform. Both the battery and the fuel tank could be placed either between the motorcycle and the sidecar, or on the sidecar platform. Over time the subframe, struts, clamps, sidecar frame, etc. would merge with the motorcycle mainframe and form a single frame. But essentially the racing outfit was still a variant of the road-going outfit in principle.

Technical innovationEdit

Beginning in 1977 there was a seismic shift away from the traditional engineering that had underscored sidecar technology up to this point. It began when George O'Dell won the championship using a Hub-center steering sidecar (built by Rolf Biland) called the Seymaz. O'Dell won despite the Seymaz being rarely raced during the season in favor of using a traditional Windle frame for much of the year. The next year Rolf Biland won the 1978 championship using a BEO-Yamaha TZ500 sidecar which was basically a rear-engine, rear-drive trike.

In 1979 the FIM responded to these technological innovations by splitting the sidecar championship into two competitions:

  • B2A - traditional sidecars
  • B2B - prototypes

Bruno Holzer won the B2B championship with an LCR BEO-Yamaha sidecar that turned motorcycling into something more like driving a car because the machine had a driver's seat, steering wheel and using foot pedals. It also did not require much participation from the sidecar passenger who just had to lie flat on the passenger platform.

In 1980, due to the revolutionary changes being made by the constructors to their designs, the FIM banned all sidecar prototypes because it was concerned that the developments were turning passengers into non-active participants, and the machines were ceasing to resemble motorcycles.

However, a year later FIM reversed its decision and reached a compromise after protests from the teams. Prototypes would be permitted to race subject to the following rules:

  • it must be a vehicle that is driven only by a single rear wheel
  • it must be steered by a single front wheel
  • it must be steered by a motorcycle handle bar not a steering wheel
  • it must require the active participation from the passenger.

The 1981 rules remain largely unchanged. For example, trikes or cyclecars are still banned. However, there have been a few amendments and easing of the rules. In the late 1990s the FIM allowed a sidecar front wheel to have automobile-style suspension (e.g. wishbone configurations. Likewise sidecars that are outside of the technical rules are permitted to compete in races but their results, points or finishes are not recorded. An example is the Markus Bösiger/Jürg Egli team who would have finished third in the 1998 championship season. However, as they were using a configuration where Bösiger sat in an upright driving position no results were entered in the official records.

Sidecars on starting grid

Under FIM regulations, "rider" applies equally to the driver and the passenger on a sidecar. The driver is positioned kneeling in front of the engine with hands near the front wheel, while the passenger moves about the platform at the rear transferring their weight from left to right according to the corner and forward or back to gain traction for the front or rear. The passenger also helps the driver when it comes to drifting, and is also usually the first person to notice any engine problems since he is next to the engine while the driver is in front of it. The two must work together to be a successful team. Nowadays it is common to call the driver the "Pilot", while the passenger has several nicknames: the "Acrobat" used in North America which is no longer in use, and the now common term "Monkey" which originated from Australia. Occasionally the words "Co-Driver" or "Co-Pilot" are also used.

Traditional sidecar racing remain popular in several countries, especially the United Kingdom, where it known as Formula Two Sidecars (600cc Engines). They are generally uses in true road racing events like the Isle of Man TT races. Despite their lower top speeds, these machines retain better manoeuvring capabilities.

Modern racingEdit

LCR Sidecar in race paddock

Between 1981 and 2016 Superside machines were known as Formula One sidecars using a basic unchanged design. These modern high tech machines are only related to motorcycles by the classification of the engines they use. All chassis are purpose built and owe more to open wheel race car technology and the tires are wide and have a flat profile. They are sometimes known as "worms".[5]

The most successful sidecar racer in Superside has been Steve Webster, who has won four world championships and six world cup between 1987 and 2004. The most successful chassis is LCR, the Swiss sidecar maker, whose founder Louis Christen has won 35 championships between 1979 and 2016, with a variety of engines, originally Yamaha and Krauser two-strokes, more lately Suzuki four-strokes. The BMW Rennsport RS54 Engine powered to 19 straight constructors titles from 1955 to 1973, the most by any engines.

In 2014, for the first time a Kawasaki-powered machine won the title with Tim Reeves and Gregory Cluze ending an 11-year consecutive Suzuki run. In 2016 Kirsi Kainulainen became the first woman motorcycle world champion, as passenger to Pekka Päivärinta.[6]

However, in 2017 the engine capacity of F1 sidecars was reduced from 1000cc to 600cc. This was a conscious effort by FIM to attract more participation from racers who still preferred the traditional F2 chassis. By reducing the engine size, it was hoped that this would mean competition on more equal terms. Nevertheless, the 2017 championship was still dominated by competitors using the F1 chassis. The highest placed F2 chassis team was 12th by Eckart Rösinger and Steffen Werner on their Baker-Suzuki GSX-R600.


Since 2005 there are now three types of race classes. Any given championship round can have all three type of races but sometimes there is only one type of race (the Gold Race) in one round, usually when the round is a supporting event of a major meeting such as MotoGP.

  • Match Race. Teams are divided into groups and race in very short heat races. Winners and the better placing teams in these heats would advance to the next round (semi-finals), until only the best six teams left for the final heat race. A typical heat race distance is three laps.
  • Sprint Race. All teams participate in a short race. A typical race distance is twelve laps.
  • Gold Race. All teams participate in a long race, usually twice the distance of the sprint race.

FIM Sidecar World ChampionsEdit

Grand PrixEdit

Season Driver Passenger Bike Constructor
1949   Eric Oliver   Denis Jenkinson Norton Manx Norton
1950   Eric Oliver   Lorenzo Dobelli Norton Manx Norton
1951   Eric Oliver   Lorenzo Dobelli Norton Manx Norton
1952   Cyril Smith   Bob Clements
  Les Nutt
Norton Manx Norton
1953   Eric Oliver   Stanley Dibben Norton Manx Norton
1954   Wilhelm Noll   Fritz Cron BMW RS54 Norton
1955   Willi Faust   Karl Remmert BMW RS54 BMW
1956   Wilhelm Noll   Fritz Cron BMW RS54 BMW
1957   Fritz Hillebrand   Manfred Grunwal BMW RS54 BMW
1958   Walter Schneider   Hans Strauß BMW RS54 BMW
1959   Walter Schneider   Hans Strauß BMW RS54 BMW
1960   Helmut Fath   Alfred Wohlgemuth BMW RS54 BMW
1961   Max Deubel   Emil Hörner BMW RS54 BMW
1962   Max Deubel   Emil Hörner BMW RS54 BMW
1963   Max Deubel   Emil Hörner[a] BMW RS54 BMW
1964   Max Deubel   Emil Hörner BMW RS54 BMW
1965   Fritz Scheidegger   John Robinson BMW RS54 BMW
1966   Fritz Scheidegger   John Robinson BMW RS54 BMW
1967   Klaus Enders   Ralf Engelhardt BMW RS54 BMW
1968   Helmut Fath   Wolfgang Kalauch URS BMW
1969   Klaus Enders   Ralf Engelhardt BMW RS54 BMW
1970   Klaus Enders   Ralf Engelhardt
  Wolfgang Kalauch
1971   Horst Owesle   Julius Kremer
  Peter Rutterford
1972   Klaus Enders   Ralf Engelhardt BMW RS54 BMW
1973   Klaus Enders   Ralf Engelhardt BMW RS54 BMW
1974   Klaus Enders   Ralf Engelhardt Busch-BMW RS54 König
1975   Rolf Steinhausen   Josef Huber Busch-König König
1976   Rolf Steinhausen   Josef Huber Busch-König König
1977   George O'Dell   Kenny Arthur
  Cliff Holland
Windle-Yamaha TZ500
Seymaz-Yamaha TZ500
1978   Rolf Biland   Kenneth Williams TTM-Yamaha TZ500
BEO-Yamaha TZ500
  Rolf Biland   Kurt Waltisperg Schmid-Yamaha TZ500 Yamaha
  Bruno Holzer   Charlie Maierhans LCR-Yamaha TZ500 Yamaha
1980   Jock Taylor   Benga Johansson Windle-Yamaha TZ500 Yamaha
1981   Rolf Biland   Kurt Waltisperg LCR-Yamaha TZ500 Yamaha
1982   Werner Schwärzel   Andreas Huber Seymaz-Yamaha TZ500 Yamaha
1983   Rolf Biland   Kurt Waltisperg LCR-Yamaha TZ500 Yamaha
1984   Egbert Streuer   Bernard Schnieders LCR-Yamaha TZ500 Yamaha
1985   Egbert Streuer   Bernard Schnieders LCR-Yamaha TZ500 Yamaha
1986   Egbert Streuer   Bernard Schnieders LCR-Yamaha TZ500 Yamaha
1987   Steve Webster   Tony Hewitt LCR-Yamaha TZ500 Yamaha
1988   Steve Webster   Tony Hewitt
  Gavin Simmons
LCR-Yamaha TZ500 Yamaha
1989   Steve Webster   Tony Hewitt LCR-Krauser Krauser
1990   Alain Michel   Simon Birchall LCR-Krauser Krauser
1991   Steve Webster   Gavin Simmons LCR-Krauser Krauser
1992   Rolf Biland   Kurt Waltisperg LCR-Krauser Krauser
1993   Rolf Biland   Kurt Waltisperg LCR-Krauser Krauser
1994   Rolf Biland   Kurt Waltisperg LCR-Swissauto V4 ADM[b]
1995   Darren Dixon   Andy Hetherington Windle-ADM ADM
1996   Darren Dixon   Andy Hetherington Windle-ADM ADM
Sidecar World Cup
1997   Steve Webster   David James LCR-ADM
500cc 2-stroke or 1000cc 4-stroke
1998   Steve Webster   David James LCR-Honda
1999   Steve Webster   David James LCR-Suzuki GSX-R 1000
2000   Steve Webster   Paul Woodhead LCR-Suzuki GSX-R 1000
1000cc 4-stroke
2001   Klaus Klaffenböck   Christian Parzer LCR-Suzuki GSX-R 1000
2002   Steve Abbott   Jamie Biggs Windle-Yamaha EXUP
2003   Steve Webster   Paul Woodhead LCR-Suzuki GSX-R 1000
Superside World Cup
2004   Steve Webster   Paul Woodhead LCR-Suzuki GSX-R 1000
2005   Tim Reeves   Tristan Reeves LCR-Suzuki GSX-R 1000
2006   Tim Reeves   Tristan Reeves LCR-Suzuki GSX-R 1000
2007   Tim Reeves   Patrick Farrance[c] LCR-Suzuki GSX-R 1000
2008   Pekka Päivärinta   Timo Karttiala LCR-Suzuki GSX-R 1000
2009   Ben Birchall   Tom Birchall LCR-Suzuki GSX-R 1000
Superside Sidecar World Championship
2010   Pekka Päivärinta   Adolf Hänni LCR-Suzuki GSX-R1000
2011   Pekka Päivärinta   Adolf Hänni LCR-Suzuki GSX-R1000
2012   Tim Reeves   Ashley Hawes LCR-Suzuki GSX-R1000
2013   Pekka Päivärinta   Adolf Hänni LCR-Suzuki GSX-R1000
2014   Tim Reeves   Gregory Cluze LCR-Kawasaki ZX-10R
(F2 World Trophy)
  Tim Reeves   Gregory Cluze DMR-Honda CBR600
2015   Bennie Streuer   Geert Koerts LCR Suzuki GSX-R1000
(F2 World Trophy)
  Tim Reeves  Patrick Farrance DMR-Honda CBR600
2016   Pekka Päivärinta   Kirsi Kainulainen[d] LCR-BMW S 1000RR
(F2 World Trophy)
  Ben Birchall   Tom Birchall LCR-Honda CBR600
600 cc 4-stroke
  Ben Birchall   Tom Birchall LCR-Yamaha YZF-R6
  Ben Birchall   Tom Birchall LCR-Yamaha YZF-R6
  Tim Reeves   Mark Wilkes Adolf RS-Yamaha YZF-R6
Season canceled due to covid-19


  1. ^   Barry Dungworth was a substitute for the injured Emil Hörner in the Isle of Man round. The team finished eighth and received no points.
  2. ^ After the withdrawal of Michael Krauser GmBH from racing, former employee Auf Der Mauer took over and branded the engines as ADM.
  3. ^   Stuart Graham was injured during the practice session of the first round in Schleiz. Patrick Farrance substituted for the race and for the rest of the season.
  4. ^ First woman to become an FIM world champion in any discipline.


  • Werner Schwärzel and Karl Heinz Kleis was the first team to win a race (1974 German GP) using a 2-stroke engine (König), Steve Abbott and Jamie Biggs was the last team to win a race (1999 World Superbike Championship round 8 Brands Hatch) using a 2-stroke engine (Honda).
  • Tim Reeves and Mark Wilkes won the first race of the season in France (Le Mans) using a German-made Adolf RS-Yamaha sidecar, thus ended LCR's winning every single race for the last 15 seasons dating back to 2003, the longest winning streak in the history of the championship by a single constructor.


  1. ^ a b Louis, Harry (26 March 1953). "Four World's Championships". The Motor Cycle. London: Iliffe & Sons Ltd. 90 (2607): 372–374.
  2. ^ "The Next Stage". The Motor Cycle. London: Iliffe & Sons Ltd. 91 (2621): 24–25. 2 July 1953.
  3. ^ Quantrill, Cyril (10 September 1953). "The Italian G.P.". Motor Cycling. 88 (2276): 560–562.
  4. ^ "Terrific Speeds in Belgian Grand Prix". The Motor Cycle. London: Iliffe & Sons Ltd. 91 (2622): 46–48. 9 July 1953.
  5. ^ Motor Cycle News 5 May 1982, p.7 Jock Taylor in the chair. Worms all the way. "The nickname 'worm' stems from last year's Austrian GP when Biland's first 'worm' wriggled all over the track". Accessed and added 2015-03-03
  6. ^ Historic world championship title for BMW sidecar Duo Pekka Päivärinta/Kirsi Kainulainen BMW Group, 19 September 2017. Retrieved 17 December 2017

External linksEdit