Following hot on the heels of the successful rider recruitment programme of the last two years, no less than thirteen sidecar crews visited the Isle of Man last week in preparation for their circuit debuts later this year. The recruitment of high calibre solo newcomers has been well documented but race organisers have been equally keen to see a similar trend occur in the F2 Sidecar class and this is now paying dividends.
Heading the exciting list of newcomers is German ace Mike Roscher who has been competing in the World Championships for a number of years now, with a best placing of 8th overall in 2003. Roscher has been partnered for the last few seasons by veteran passenger Adolf Hanni, who can count Steve Webster and Klaus Klaffenbock amongst his former drivers, and the duo finished the 2006 campaign in 10th place, never finishing outside the top ten in the races they competed in.
Joining Roscher was Dougie Wright, son of former TT podium finisher Eddy, and the Leeds youngster certainly impressed in 2006 at the Southern 100 and Scarborough meetings. Eddy himself will make a comeback in 2007, the first time he has competed since 1999, adding further quality to the line-up. Other drivers studying the Mountain Course included Mark Brown, David Hirst, Stuart Stobbart, Rob Hancock and Stephen Carey all of whom have scored strong results at either the F2 British Championship, the Southern 100 or Scarborough meetings. Perhaps the most interesting combination on the trip however, was that of current Japanese Sidecar Champions, Masahito Watanabe and Hideyuki Yoshida who hope to make their event debut with an LCR chassis-ed Honda outfit.
All of the circuit debutants spent considerable time with a number of the current stars and amongst the drivers offering expert tuition were Dave Molyneux, Nick Crowe and Roy Hanks.
TT and Motorsport Development Manager Paul Phillips commented:
"We are delighted to welcome so many new faces from the Sidecar world to the Isle of Man and this is further proof of how dedicated we are to the event, both two wheels and three. Having top class drivers from both the World Championships and the British Championships is a terrific boost to the F2 Sidecar races and we will be endeavouring to ensure that this trend continues. All of the newcomers in 2006 impressed with a number of them breaking the 100mph barrier and Iím sure the drivers who have been over this week will go on to become TT regulars. The Sidecars have been an integral part of the Isle of Man TT for over half a century and as we celebrate our 100th birthday this year, they'll continue to remain so in the years to come."