After an eventful first three races in the Eastern Airways F1 Battle of Britain championship at Pembrey, Mansfield brothers Ben and Tom Birchall scored three top four results to settle into third place in the championship.
The Mitchells of Mansfield supported world champions completed the solitary qualifying session in second place – just two tenths of a second away from pole and began their first race in the new series from a front row grid position.
“Because the world series riders have to use a standard engine this year it has levelled the playing field in the British championship somewhat and although we had a trouble free qualifying session it was a bit hectic out there with 30 outfits on the short 1.456-mile Pembrey track. But we managed to secure a front row start and were raring to go,” said Ben.
Once the 16-lap opening race got underway and the outfits sorted themselves out the Birchall brothers were quick to establish the lead which they held until the penultimate lap when they had a coming together with another outfit as both drivers went for the same piece of tarmac.
Ben explained: “We were being challenged for the lead but when we both went for the same piece of track I was unfortunate to come off the worst. My outfit spun and although we were quick to rejoin we ended up taking the chequered flag in fourth position.”
The grid for the two Sunday races was determined by the finishing places in Saturday’s race and with a second row start in fourth place the Birchall brothers had to put in an extra effort to remain on terms with the leaders. They completed the first of Sunday’s two 12-lappers in third place before going on to take second in the final race.
“Although we didn’t actually win a race at Pembrey we did improve our times and found a really good set up on the new chassis in readiness for the first round of the world championship.
“We are really happy with the new outfit and like it more every time we ride it. We have come on in leaps and bounds over the weekend and this reflected in our laps times at Pembrey.
“It is a good five years since we last raced at Pembrey and it took a few laps to settle but it’s a great little circuit and we really enjoyed ourselves. It was good to see a full grid of F1 sidecars racing this weekend which reflects the popularity of our sport.”
The Birchall brothers now travel to France where they will begin the defence of their world crown at Le Mans. Qualifying takes place on Friday followed by an 18-lap race on Saturday at 12 noon CET prior to the start of the Le Mans 24-hour World Endurance race for solo machines.