Harry Payne and Frenchman Kevin Rousseau are second in the FIM World Sidecar Championship after the opening weekend of the series at Sachsenring, Germany.

At what was a new circuit for the Ballasalla-based driver the weekend started with a free practice session in which the pair posted the second-fastest time on the anti-clockwise GP circuit. That secured them a front row start alongside the Birchall brothers for Saturday’s 11-lap sprint race, grabbing the holeshot at turn one and leading for five or six corners before being overhauled by the Honda-powered Birchalls.

The Steinhuasen Racing pair finished runners-up behind Ben and Tom, with Tim Reeves and Harry’s former passenger Mark Wilkes breaking an engine on the final lap letting defending world champions Ellis/Clement up into a podium spot.

Similar to the NW200 last weekend, tyre conservation played a big part in the 20-lap main race on Sunday.

Harrison/Rousseau made another quick getaway to lead into turn one, holding off the Birchalls for the first lap. But the latter’s Honda had a little more top speed and managed to pass before breaking into turn one on lap two.

‘I knew they were a little faster than us, so my only chance was to try and ruffle them,’ said Harry. ‘But when I tried to fight back on lap two I had no rear grip at all. We made a mistake with the suspension settings overnight so we will have to learn from this.’

Harrison/Rousseau were then overtaken by the Kershaw/Charlwood combination, and then a few laps later by the Christie brothers, after which it was a three-way fight for second place. With six laps remaining to go Payne tried to put a move up the inside into T1 but a lack of rear grip caused them to spin and drop two places back to sixth, which is what they finished.

This good haul of points puts Harry and Kevin second place in the world championship with the next Grand Prix at Spa, the week after the TT.