Steve Webster has conceded the 2005 title after the Team Castrol Suzuki pair were forced to withdraw from the third round of the 2005 FIM Sidecar World Championship.

After qualifying on pole for the 31st consecutive time at a World Championship event, Webster realised some ongoing health problems were affecting his ability to concentrate and hence race safely.

Fully considering the possible consequences of an error that could be made at 165mph, Webster took the difficult decision to withdraw the team after qualification.

Sighed the Easingwold-based ace: "I just didn't feel right, and I didn't feel totally in control. I've had a medical problem since last winter and I've tried to race around it, but it has proved impossible for me to continue for the time being."

Webster said he did not expect to be back in actioin again until at least September.

"In 25 years of racing I've never taken a 'sickie', but now I need one, and I need a bit of time out to get myself sorted," he added.

"Hopefully I'll be back at Assen in September, but right now I need some time off and away from it all. Doing this job - racing - I can't put two people's lives at risk, and it's not fair on the rest of the field if I'm not 100 per cent fit and right to race.

"It was a difficult decision to face up to, and I'm sorry to all the sponsors, but we're going to have to miss the next two or three races so that I can get myself sorted and fully back to normal. Sometimes you have to put yourself first, and this is one of those times.

"Assen is my favourite circuit, and I intend to be fit and firing on all cylinders by then."

His passenger Paul Woodhead added: "It's a difficult decision for any racer to have to make, but Steve has made the right one as he was concerned for both of our safety on the track.

"The important thing is he gets fully fit again and we can look forward to coming back at Assen."

The race was left to Tim Reeves and Jorg Steinhausen to fight over, and they truly did.

On the final lap, Steinhausen controversially collided with Reeves after trying to find a gap down the inside at the first turn. He hit Reeves, sending him spinning towards the outside of the track.

Despite a heroic effort to catch up, Steinhausen took the win, with passenger Hopkinson ripping off the accident-damaged sidecar wheel arch as they crossed the line.

A furious Reeves refused to attend the rostrum afterwards, incurring a fine of 1,000 Euros, but he still leads the championship table with 110 points to Steinhausen's 86.

Updated: 10:41 Monday, June 20, 2005