The prevailing sentiment is that motocross isn’t truly a team sport, that even though there are factory motocross “teams,” only one rider ultimately wins the World Championship or the national championship in the respective country in which he or she competes. Sidecarcross flies in the face of that argument.
In sidecarcross, it takes two to tango.
The 14-round 2017 FIM Sidecarcross World Championship wrapped up in Markelo, Netherlands, last weekend, crowning two riders that most American fans have probably never even heard of, the Dutch team of Etienne Bax and Nicolas Musset as its World Champions. The series points leaders coming into the final round, Bax/Musset were expected to face a stiff challenge from their closest rivals, Valentin Giraud and Elvijs Mucenieks of France.
As can happen in any racing series, the final round took some dramatic turns as Bax/Musset battled for the lead in Race 1, only to retire from the race with mechanical issues. That left the door open for Giraud/Mucenieks to capitalize and bring the championship title fight down to the final moto of the season. However, the French team got off to a poor start and finished in a position that mathematically handed the title to Bax/Musset. It was Bax’s second World Sidecarcross Championship crown.
As we explained in our 2016 feature Sidecarcross: Lunatic Fringe or Two Much Fun?, sidecarcross is a very different animal than motocross, sharing more with American Flat Track racing than motocross when it comes to vehicle specifications. Teams select engines, usually 500+cc two-strokes and 600+cc four-strokes, and wrap them in highly crafted but cottage-built chassis. There are multiple engine /chassis combinations sprouting from such builders as WSP, BSU, VMC, Bull SP, WHT and EML. KTM, Husqvarna and even Jawa engines are used for power, and there also sidecar-specific engines, such as the monstrous 700cc Zabel two-stroke that has powered the World Championship-winning teams in 10 out of the last 13 seasons. The Dutch-built WSP chassis has dominated the World Championship series in recent years, winning the past seven World titles in a row to match the seven-year streak by VMC of Belgium.
Sidecarcross racing may never enjoy the popularity in America that it does in Europe, but that doesn’t make it any less cool. We’d love to see more of this kind of racing in the States.