2024 Sidecar Shootout highlights | 81MM

16th April 2024
Adam Wilkins

The Sidecar Shootout very quickly became one of the most popular Members’ Meeting showcases we’ve ever had as a group of insanely talented, monumentally brave, and incredibly successful sidecar riders took to the Goodwood Motor Circuit over the weekend. We’d never seen the like before, but one thing’s for sure, we’re very hopeful that we’ll see it again.


In all there were 17 world championships shared between the riders and passengers that took part in the 2024 Sidecar Shootout during the 81st Members’ Meeting presented by Audrain Motorsport, and you could tell as these eight teams got straight up to speed on a track they’d never ridden on before.

Their progress was swift and the times plummeted from session to session as the tension began to build for the final on Sunday afternoon.

The teams of Ben Birchall and Kevin Rousseau, Sam and Tom Christie, Todd Ellis and Emanuelle Clement, and Steve Kershaw and Ryan Charlwood made it through to the Shootout final, and each had one chance to set the quickest lap they could.

Perhaps unsurprisingly it was reigning champions Ellis and Clement that claimed a hugely entertaining victory with a time of 1:21.174. It was a close competition, as all four finalists were split by barely more than a second, all comfortably circulating at an average speed of more than 100mph.

Photography by Jochen Van Cauwenberge.

2024 Sidecar Shootout Qualifying

With what is still a very minimal knowledge of the Goodwood Motor Circuit, these riders were teasing with the absolute limit of adhesion as they engaged ‘full send’ mode for their single timed laps on Saturday afternoon.

You could tell these were several of the very best sidecar teams in the world, and the show they put on was absolutely breathtaking, if a little bit heart-in-mouth. Watching the passengers fight with all their might to keep all three wheels on the tarmac is a thrill we didn’t know we needed.

It was the team of Steve Kershaw and Ryan Charlwood that set the fastest lap of a 1:22.419, a little more than a second clear of reigning world champions Todd Ellis and Emanuelle Clement. Anyone thinking these heroes would be taking it easy were mistaken, as we saw a top speed on the Lavant Straight of 142.1mph set by Ben Birchall and Kevin Rousseau.

Photography by Toby Whales.

It didn't take long for these incredibly brave and skilful riders to start finding the limits at Goodwood, barely two laps into their one and only practice session we were already being treated to some stunning three-wheeled action.

The telepathic combination of rider and passenger was on full display, as they worked together to figure out ideal lines. Of course, the element of competition is bound to start taking precedence as this event evolves and the lap times become the focus, but it was lovely to see these team getting into the spirit of the Members’ Meeting.

One passenger even found time to wave to the crowd as they made their way around Woodcote.

Photography by Joe Harding, Nick Wilkinson and Toby Whales.

That said, the elevation changes through St. Mary’s yielded plenty of drama. We’ve had wheels off the ground as the passengers wrestled desperately to keep the balance of the bike under control. These things are utterly brilliant to watch, and this early morning session has well and truly whetted out appetite for what comes next.

The Sidecar Shootout will see current bikes competing throughout the weekend, simultaneously shining a spotlight on an oft-overlooked form of motorsport. Eight teams of drivers and passengers will take part throughout the weekend, culminating in a final to determine the overall winner on Sunday afternoon. 

World championship drivers and passengers

The roster of drivers includes several world champions with names like 2019 victor Mark Wilkes, three-time champion Todd Ellis and eight-time world champion Tim Reeves. Together with their passengers, they will be given a new platform to demonstrate their considerable talents in front of a crowd that might not have seen them in action before.

If they’re going to taste victory, the drivers and passengers have to work together seamlessly as one aboard their tiny machines that are capable of up to 170mph. While the driver has control of the steering, throttle and brakes, it’s the passenger’s actions that determine the grip levels and whether or not the three-wheeled bike remains shiny side up. As the passengers learn the circuit, they’ll adapt their movements accordingly to maximise performance, effectively altering the bike’s handling corner by corner. These top-flight teams all have an instinct as to what each other will do and when. Sidecar racing requires a set of skills that’s entirely unique in motorsport.

What makes their achievements all the more inspiring is the fact that sidecar racing has no big teams. It’s entirely free of corporate intervention and that means that in most cases the riders themselves are the people who are building and maintaining the machines.


When is the Sidecar Shootout?

There are four opportunities to see the sidecars in action during the 81st Members' Meeting. Free Practice takes place at 09:30 on Saturday. Later that day, at 17:10, is the Qualifying session. On Sunday the Knockout will be at 11:00 with things climaxing with the Final at 16:55.

Photography by Joe Harding.

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