Newly Crowned European Champions in our Centre

Words by Ben Falconer. Photo: Colin Jones

Gloucestershire pairing Ian Hannam and Deborah Smith are celebrating being crowned pre-65 sidecar trials champions of Europe.


They took the pre-65 European cup with two rounds to go, in Arnhem, Holland, with a win on day 1 (round 6) and a 2nd on day 2 (round 7).

It is the first time West Glos and Dean Forest MCC member Ian and Cheltenham Home Guard MCC passenger Deb have contested the full 9 round series and they plan to go back on the road and defend their title next year.

First they have got to seal up the Unit class of the British series, which still has two rounds to run, although they are virtually home and dry, barring mechanical problems.

The series was bookended by two weekends in Germany in May and September 23/24, with Austria in August Holland the week before the second German weekend and a single round somewhat closer to home, at Horsley, Stroud, home of the British Bike Bonanza in June.

It was a big commitment but with three wins, three second places a fourth and a fifth, they made the trips worthwhile.

"It was very satisfying," said Ian, who lives in Coleford and rides a BSA 441 outfit. "I would like to do the series next year and defend the cup."

The Raw Sports-sponsored pairs' closest rival was German Hinz Franke, although British drivers Pete Pesterfield and John Pearson kept the series a close fought affair.

Ian and Deborah have built up a good understanding in just a few years but Ian was quick to credit Roger Taylor of RTS for his work on the BSA's engine.

"I went to him and told him what needed improving and he came up with the goods," said Ian.

Deborah started passengering with dad Jeff seven years ago and has been in Ian's chair for two seasons.

"I'm probably not good enough to ride solo but this gives me a great way to still be involved," she said. "I think we should go and defend it next year."

The series attracted a hard core of around six pairings but a bigger support class, which has allowed many crews to improve their skills enough to move up and challenge for the cup next year.