Despite being newcomers to the event, Ben and Tom Birchall have taken the victory in the Isle of Man Southern 100 sidecar championship race on the Cofain by Klaffi LCR 600cc Honda that took them to a double podium at the TT races earlier in the year.
Fresh from their victory in the world championship race at Sachsenring in Germany the Mansfield brothers flew directly to the Isle of Man on Monday to commence their practice laps prior to the first of two sidecar races around the 4.25-mile Billowen road circuit.
The first race over six laps was held on Tuesday evening and it proved to be a close and exciting encounter with Ben and Tom mixing it with Ian and Carl Bell, Harrison/Chauhun, Lambert/Gale and Lockey/Cole. The five outfits were all fighting for second place and on the very last lap Ben and Tom managed to hold off the opposition to take a fine third place.
“That was an amazing race,” said Ben. “At the TT we never really mixed it with other competitors because it’s a long way round the course and you set off at 10 second intervals. But this is something else; its like short circuit racing on public roads, we all set off together and it was amazing to be riding flat out and heading three abreast into a right hander. We really enjoyed the close racing with the lads who were all brilliant.”
The second race on Thursday afternoon was the Petrochem Carless Fuels championship race run over 8 laps (34 miles) of the course. The Birchalls set off in second place to chase after Reeves/Sayle who had established the lead. At the bridge they were closing down the leaders with Ian and Carl Bell just a fraction behind them. But Reeves was forced out leaving the way clear for Ben and Tom to take the lead going on to pull away and establish a comfortable lead. At the end of the eight laps the Birchall brothers crossed the finish line to take the victory a great achievement on their first visit to the Billowen course.
“By lap three of the race we had settled into our stride and were all ready for a battle with the leaders, we were making inroads towards them but unfortunately it wasn’t to be as Tim (Reeves) went out with a mechanical problem. It’s a pity as it was shaping up to be a close and exciting battle.
“What a team we have got behind us, I have to give a big thank you to everyone that’s involved with the team this year, Klaffi, Cofain, Manx Gas Andy Mitchell and Andy Faragher. We will continue next year and hopefully the year after. The preparation by our team is unbelievable. We had a new engine for this race and it’s an absolute missile. Thanks also go to the organisers for inviting us over for the Southern 100 the welcome we received has been perfect and we have really enjoyed ourselves. Apparently we are the first newcomers to actually win the championship race so we received the championship trophy, the fastest lap trophy and also the best newcomer award.”
The Birchalls head back to Germany next week to take part in the fifth round of the World Sidecar championship at Schleiz on July 22. The team will enjoy two races this time and another couple of top results there could elevate them up the rider standings where they currently hold third place.
pic credit – action Dean Turtin
presentation – Alan Armstrong