12.09.11 Mansfield brothers Ben and Tom Birchall took a third place in race one going on to win the second race in round six of the Eastern Airways British F1 Sidecar championship at Donington Park at the weekend to edge to within seven points of the runner up spot held by Scott Lawrie and James Neave.
The Mitchells of Mansfield brothers timed their qualifying to perfection setting the fastest lap of the session on their final lap of 1m 36.611 seconds to snatch pole from under the nose of championship leaders Tim Reeves and Gregory Cluze.
As race one set off on Saturday afternoon Ben and Tom settled into second place to follow Reeves/Cluze for the majority of the 10 laps. The pair pulled clear of the pursuing pack and the Birchalls set about reeling in the leaders. At the half way stage of the race Ben and Tom rounded Melbourne alongside their opponents but were unable to make the move stick. Next time around they passed the leaders at Coppice but instantly slowed allowing Reeves back through.
It was obvious the Mansfield pair had struck trouble and although they kept going they were caught by Lovelock/Lawrence who passed them at the Melbourne loop on the final lap. Although the Birchalls put in a brave effort they were just beaten to the finish line by the smallest of gaps – eight thousandths of a second separating them from second place.
After the race Ben explained the problem: “As we went to take the lead I felt there was something wrong and it turned out to be a puncture in the rear tyre. We managed to nurse the outfit home and just missed out on second place.”
With the tyre replaced Ben and Tom went out for race two confident they had the pace to win this time. They began the second race on Sunday morning from the second row of the grid and moved up to second as they rounded Redgate for the first time. But they were right on the back wheel of Reeves/Cluze who held a slender lead and after allowing time for the tyres to come up to temperature Ben made his move passing Reeves at the Esses on lap three. From there they never faltered and set the fastest lap of the race on the next lap and again on the next two circulations to break the existing lap record by just under a second with a time of 1m 35.229s – 94.03mph.
The pair pulled clear of Reeves and crossed the finish line 3.9seconds ahead to take the win, maximum points and win the Bill Boddice Trophy for a fourth time.
“We felt strong for the second race and put into practice what we knew we could achieve. Once we got in front we just rode off the pit board and brought the bike home for the win. We are really pleased to win the Bill Boddice Trophy for the fourth time and also delighted we could win at our home track of Donington Park. It is good that we were able to produce a win for all our sponsors and friends that came to support us over the weekend.”
The next round is at Silverstone but the Birchall brothers will have to give that a miss as they travel to Le Mans for the final round of the world championship where they are currently holding second place. Although the title has already gone the way of Paivarinta and Hanni, a good result at Le Mans will clinch the runner up spot for the team who take part in the final world championship race on Saturday, September 24.
Photos show Ben and Tom in race action at Donington and with the Bill Boddice Trophy. credit Wally Walters