After suffering a crash during qualifying practice for the Isle of Man TT races Ben and Tom Birchall fought back to full fitness and rode to a fine second place in the first of the two three-lap races around the gruelling TT course on Saturday.
Riding for the Cofain by Klaffi team the Mansfield brothers suffered a crash at Brandywell on Monday and spent the night in Nobles hospital. But they were discharged the following morning after escaping just with some heavy bruising. The outfit was not quite so lucky and the team spent most of the night and the following day making repairs in order to get the boys back on track.
Ben commented: “We were really lucky that we didn’t hit anything solid in the crash which was caused by some handling issues. The boys worked really hard to get the outfit fixed up and got us out on Thursday where we did two fast laps and felt great.”
Ben and Tom began Saturday’s race from fifth place, the riders setting off at 10 second intervals. By the time they reached the first check point at Glen Helen they were up into second and remained there throughout the remainder of the three laps. They were the fastest competitors through the Sulby speed trap on each lap, their fastest time registering as 142.2mph and they posted a personal best average speed around the 37.73-mile course at the end of the first lap at 111.966mph. Lap two saw this bettered once again to 112.136mph and the final lap they recorded a fantastic 112.979mph as they sped towards the chequered flag to pick up their best result at the TT races to date.
At the post race interviews Ben said: “After what we have been through over the past week it feels fantastic to be up on the podium. We can’t give enough thanks to Klaus and the team. From the word go, since he asked us to ride for him, its all just been perfect. Even when I gave him the worst baptism of fire possible with the crash it was still not a problem for him and the team. Klaffi just got his head down and fixed everything. Adolf (Hanni) came straight off the plane, put his overalls on and got stuck in. We have to give a massive thanks to Cofain, Manx Gas and Andy Mitchell who has been here all week, Andy Faragher plus everyone who has helped put us and the bike back together after our off. I think we have gone someway to repaying them with this result.
“Getting on the podium here at the TT is right up there with winning the world championship although they are two completely different disciplines. But this is what we came here for and what we have been dreaming of ever since we were a couple of kids messing around on holiday!”
The Birchall brothers have little time to rest on their laurels as there is some serious work to be put in to prepare the outfit for the next race which will take place on Wednesday with a scheduled start time of 3.15pm.
Photos supplied by Mark Wally Walters