FOR thirty years, Steve Kershaw has been dreaming of becoming world champion. 

Now, after three decades of climbing the ladder, he’s within touching distance of achieving that target. 

Britain’s top sidecar racer will, this weekend, make his first-ever assault on the FIM Sidecar World Championships but despite his inexperience at the very highest level of his sport, he is not there merely to make up the numbers. 

Kershaw is reigning British champion having won the national title last year in a curtailed schedule, regaining the title he won in 2018. His passenger, Ryan Charlwood, is also a multiple British champion and on Friday, the pair will begin their campaign at Le Mans in what is the first weekend of the World Championships that run until October. 

And while Kershaw may be a novice at World Championship level, he has every confidence he has the ability to compete with the very best from the off. 

“Ever since I can remember, I wanted to be racing sidecars and I wanted to be word champion,” the 33-year-old from the Borders says. 

“You can’t go in with the mentality of being daunted – you have to go there wanting to win. 

“I’ve been doing this a long time and I’ve gathered a lot of experience so I’ve had time to prepare myself for this 

“In 2019, the reigning world champions came to the British round of the championships and we beat them and so that gave me the confidence we were at that level. A lot of the other top guys were there too and we beat them so I was like right, it’s time to get really stuck in here and give the world championship a try.” 

Kershaw has been immersed in sidecar racing his entire life. Both his parents were heavily involved in the sport, with his mum the passenger in his dad’s car. 

And so with some of Kershaw’s most formative memories being of sidecar races, it is perhaps no surprise this is the direction his life took. 

“My parents stopped racing but my dad then sponsored a friend to ride so every weekend, we’d be away at races, leaving at 4am. 

“So I grew up in the sport and so it was never in doubt in my mind that I’d get into sidecars,” he says. 

“You can’t race sidecars until you’re 17 so it felt like a long wait but I turned 17 in the February and was racing sidecars by the March. My heart had always been set on that.” 

It has not always been an easy journey to this point though. 

There may be money flying around some corners of motorsport but sidecar racing is certainly not bursting with billionaires.  

Kershaw is a joiner by trade and his team is a family set-up with his parents acting as truck driver, administrator and caterer while his wife and two young sons are chief cheerleaders. 

Formula One drivers may be jetting around the world in private jets but Kershaw’s life could not be more different from those involved in the richer disciplines of motorsport, which is why he had to think so carefully about taking the step up to world championship level and he admits that along the way, he’s had plenty of doubts about whether or not he was right to be pursuing his dream of reaching the top. 

“I’ve had loads of moments when I thought I wasn’t going to make it. Keeping at it is the hardest part of it all,” he says.  

“There’s so many obstacles whether they’re financial, mental, physical, it’d be so easy to say right, I’m packing this in. 

“You doubt yourself on the track too but you just have to stick at it – resilience and determination are everything. 

“You have to make so many sacrifices so you have to be fully committed.” 

With Kershaw already in his thirties, he knows he is likely closer to the end of his career than the beginning.  

Thoughts of how long he will continue have already crossed his mind but he wants more than anything to finish his career having won the biggest prize of all. 

And so, the next few years will be the most important of his already successful career. 

“At the moment, I feel like I’ve got an unfulfilled ambition of winning the world championship and if I don’t win it by the time I’m 40, I probably never will so at that point, I’ll probably call it a day,” he says.  

“I’d be fine with that actually – if I don’t become world champion, I’ll know I gave it absolutely everything.  

“You need so much to go right to become world champion – and you need luck too and so as long as I’ve given it everything, I’ll be satisfied with that.”